Undocumented student is first to research DACA’s impact on wages

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 12/19/2014

245% – that’s how much Francisco López-Flores’s wages increased after he received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). After charting the profound effect DACA had on his own life, Francisco, a UCLA student, started researching the impact DACA had on the wages of his community.

On Friday, Francisco traveled to Washington D.C. to present his findings to lawmakers. FWD.us caught up with him before his presentation to chat about his experience as an undocumented student, the fight for reform, and his investigation into the measurable impact of DACA.

FWD.us: DACA hugely impacted your life. What was your life like before receiving DACA?

López-Flores: I came to the U.S. when I was five years old with my mom and was raised in a single parent household in Riverside, CA. My family has been very much affected by immigration policy over the last twenty years. My mother was deported, but she was luckily able to return. My younger brother was also deported and decided to stay in Mexico, and my youngest brother is a U.S. citizen.

I’m very lucky to have received DACA because I saw the effects almost immediately. With respect to wages, I saw a 245% increase in my wages. Before DACA, a lot of my work was informal and below minimum wage. There’s no protection for undocumented workers. I would work unloading cargo at a warehouse from trailers that came into the ports in LA and Long Beach, I would clean houses – you name it and I’ve done it to try to get by.

FWD.us: Now that you have DACA you’re able to work full time at Santa Monica Hospital as an HR Specialist. What did it feel like to receive your work permit?

López-Flores: I’ve entered the formal labor market. My skillset can finally commensurate with my job type. I feel so lucky to be able to apply for scholarships that I didn’t have access to before without a social security number. I feel like DACA has given me a huge advantage.

FWD.us: You ended up being the first person to research the direct impact of DACA on wages. How did you make that happen?

López-Flores: I study Chicano Studies and Society and Genetics at UCLA. I approached my professor with the data I had about my own wage growth after DACA. My professor really liked the idea of doing more research with a greater sample size. So, for my class project I interviewed six subjects about their wage growth after DACA. Then, we did a survey with over 200 respondents. The data we’re presenting today shows that before DACA, the mean wage for respondents was $7.19 per hour. After DACA, these individuals have a mean wage of $15.29 per hour. That’s a 113% increase in wages!

FWD.us: The increase in wages is enormous – Can you tell us more about what you’re doing with all of this data?

López-Flores: Lawmakers have been really interested in this research because there really isn’t much data about the economic impact of DACA, specifically on wage growth. My professor at UCLA has done previous research on migration and wage growth and helped me to assemble a report that will be presented today. I traveled to D.C. with the North American Integration and Development Center and the César Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies at UCLA to present on the data we’ve compiled and also showcase data on how DACA recipients have benefitted from other kinds of financial inclusion, such as access and use of banking services, credit, loans, and tax filings.

FWD.us: What does President Obama’s executive action on immigration mean for your community and what does 2015 hold for you in the fight for immigration reform?

López-Flores: I’m really excited that these executive orders were done and that 5 million people will be able to benefit, but I think we need to address the 7 million people who were left out. So, I think 2015 is really about framing immigration reform is an economic issue of utmost importance. I want to continue to measure the impact of DACA and of the new programs from set forth by executive action.

Undocumented students really changed the discourse on immigration. We weren’t able to pass the DREAM Act, but we eventually got DACA. I think this project is reframing the issue and showing the impact on the young people who are affected by programs like DACA.

Announcing the FWD.us Advocacy Widget

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 12/11/2014

Today, FWD.us is excited to announce a new way we’ve made our work available for other pro-reform organizations to use. We’ve worked hard over the past year to build up our arsenal of tools for easily contacting members of Congress and encouraging our elected leaders to support action on immigration – and now it’s easier than ever to get your community involved.

We’ve created an easy-to-implement tool that allows any site to prompt their visitors to contact members of Congress in support of immigration reform. It’s simple – just copy a few lines of code into your site and we’ll take care of the upkeep!

With this tool you can:

  • Enter your zip code and find your representative
  • See where your representative stands on key immigration issues
  • Contact your representative using our call tool, on twitter and Facebook, or by sending a letter in support of reform

Interested in adding this to your site? Here’s how!

If you want to give your visitors the ability to contact their representatives in support of immigration reform, simply copy the following code and paste it where you want it to show up on your site. We’ll take care of the rest, and you’ll always have the most up-to-date information available to your visitors. Simple. Convenient. Impactful.

<script type="text/javascript">  document.write('<iframe src="http://app.fwd.us/widgets/push4reform" border="0" height="350" width="400" id="fwdwidget" scrolling="no" style="border:0 none; background-color:transparent;"></iframe>');</script>

See the widget in action:

Update: A Crucial Step Forward To Fix Our Broken Immigration System

Posted by Todd Schulte on 11/21/2014

Today, President Obama unveiled his plans for executive action on immigration reform at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas. I wanted to lay out what this means – and thank you for being the reason this happened.

We applaud the President for taking critical steps today to fix aspects of our broken immigration system that will mean millions of families can live their lives free from fear of deportation. It means families across America can come out of the shadows without fear and more fully contribute to our communities. It means we are focusing our resources on going after hardened criminals – not deporting parents just trying to make a better life for their kids. Moreover, we are encouraged by the President’s pledge to continue working to make it easier for entrepreneurs to create American jobs, and help keep the best and the brightest who come from around the world to study at our universities.

Today happened because of you.

Executive action means:

  • Nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants could be eligible for the programs announced this week that allow immigrants of any present age who were brought to this country as children to apply for three years of protection from deportation, and for work permits.
  • The GDP will increase by $90 billion to $210 billion and the federal deficit will decrease by $25 billion, by 2024. 
  • Average wages for all workers, both U.S.-born and immigrant, are projected to increase by $170 from these actions alone. 

This moment would not have been possible without the tireless work of grassroots immigration reform supporters. Countless calls, letters, town hall meetings, demonstrations, and petitions have kept immigration reform at the forefront of national discussion.

The tech community and FWD.us made today’s announcement happen because we utilized innovative advocacy tools for on- and offline organizing. We’ve been proud to help hundreds of thousands of supporters reach their elected representatives to send a clear message that the time for reform is now.

  • We’ve had over 350,000 different people make contacts to members of Congress and the President, both online and off.
  • We’ve hosted over 100 events across 15 states, and worked with partner organizations on hundreds more.
  • We’ve developed innovative advocacy tools – like Push4Reform, BuiltByImmigrants (BBI), and Selfies4Reform – to engage supporters creatively and help them interact with their elected representatives at the touch of a button.
  • We maintain chapter programs in 7 cities with tech hubs across the country; our robust chapters reach supporters across the country, actively engaging 8,000 members each month.
  • We’ve helped widely amplify the inspiring story of U.S. Air Force veteran Jesus – who was welcomed home from his military service abroad by news of his sister Alejandra’s detention – and their call for the President to act boldly on executive action.

Today’s announcement will have a monumental effect on 5 million lives, but our work here is not done. We have friends, family and allies who we fight alongside everyday for whom today will not bring relief – and that is exactly why we need to keep fighting.

These actions are no substitute for legislation, which remains the only way forward on the permanent solution to our broken immigration system our country so desperately needs. We’re thankful for the champions on both sides of the aisle who have worked in good faith with members of the tech community, DREAMers and their families, and so many other important voices on legislation. We are deeply committed to continuing our fight for the legislation our country needs.

But for today – thank you. This was big, and it’s because of you.

Military families call for executive action

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 11/13/2014

Veterans, service members and their families, immigration advocates, and lawmakers gathered in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to push for executive action on immigration reform. Air Force Veteran Jesus Magaña led a press conference, calling on Congress to support President Obama in taking big and bold action to help as many people as possible.

Sign Jesus Magaña’s petition calling on President Obama to act now on immigration reform.

“We need everyone to stand up and show that they’re with us,” said Magaña, who returned from active duty in Kuwait to find his sister had been put into deportation proceedings.

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 “I am a Marine. I loved serving this country,” explained Elizabeth Perez, a Veteran of the Ohio National Guard and the Marine Corps., whose husband was deported over four years ago. “The love of my life never came back… The President can do something. It’s his obligation to do something as the leader of this country.”

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For Elizabeth, there is a no hope that her husband will be reunited with her and their two sons unless President Obama acts on immigration reform.

Rep. Grijalva expressed his strong support for action to a growing crowd. “Waiting, waiting, and waiting is not the solution,” he said. “Let these military families be an example to the rest of why we need action.” 

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Calling directly on President Obama, Rep. Polis said, “It’s unconscionable that our own government would tear apart families. We can reunite families, improve security, and improve the economy with big bold action.”

See more photos from the #Vets4Reform event here.