DACA recipient contributions to the U.S. economy are equivalent to their total annual wages, or spending power, after the payment of all federal, payroll, state, and local taxes. These estimates do not take into account additional economic contributions based on businesses DACA recipients own, their personal investments, home ownership, or the additional wages of their family members. Consequently, these estimates should be considered minimums.
Past wages and tax contributions:
The size of the DACA recipient population has varied from year to year, peaking at around 700,000 individuals in 2018. In 2022, nearly 600,000 people living in the U.S. had DACA. Using American Community Survey (ACS) data for previous years, DACA recipients were identified based on economic, demographic, and social characteristics (see our ACS methodology on how we assign immigration status to respondents in the ACS). Total wages were calculated with these DACA assignments for each year of the ACS.
Because of respondent coverage issues in 2020, ACS data from 2019 was used for 2020 with upward adjustments for changes in overall U.S. wages between 2019 and 2020. Wages for 2022 relied on ACS data from 2021, also with upward adjustments for changes in overall U.S. wages between 2021 and 2022.
The median level of income for the national DACA population was used for DACA respondents who did not provide personal income. Federal taxes are based on federal and payroll tax estimates for market income by household type and household size from the Congressional Budget Office’s 2018 “Distribution of Household Income” report. State and local tax estimates do not take into account differences in local taxation rates, but are based on estimated state averages of taxation by income from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy’s 2018 report, “Who Pays? A Distribution Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States.”
Future wages and tax contributions:
Projected wages are based on the total DACA-eligible population for each year using current DACA eligibility criteria. For 2023 to 2027 projections, DACA-eligible individuals’ income and taxes were upwardly adjusted using the mean income of long-term immigrants with lawful permanent residency (LPR) living in the U.S. for 20 years or longer and having similar ages, sex distributions, and educational breakdowns as DACA-eligible individuals as they age through the coming decade. These five years are based on legislation offering LPR for current DACA recipients and conditional LPR for DACA-eligible individuals without DACA.
For 2028 to 2032 projections, current DACA recipient income is upwardly adjusted using the mean annual income of U.S. citizen immigrants living in the U.S. for 20 years or longer and having similar ages, sex distributions, and educational breakdowns as DACA recipients. This assignment is based on eligibility in legislation to obtain U.S. citizenship after five years with LPR. For DACA-eligible individuals currently without DACA, respondent income was upwardly adjusted using the mean income of long-term immigrants with LPR living in the U.S. for 20 years or longer and having similar ages, sex distributions, and educational breakdowns as DACA eligible individuals, allowing for the population to age through the coming decade.
Because more than a quarter of DACA-eligible individuals are under 23, the age at which some DACA recipients had not only completed high school but also had earned a college degree, younger DACA-eligible individuals were aged appropriately into educational attainment and corresponding income categories, with all having completed high school by the end of the projection period (research shows nearly all long-term DACA recipients graduate from high school), and an additional 3,000 characterized as college graduates each year (the average national rate of college attainment for DACA recipients).
These projected total wages allow for changes in educational and career development as DACA-eligible individuals age, as seen in similar individuals with lawful immigration status in the 2021 ACS data. Wage totals were also upwardly adjusted to account for a 2% average annual increase in wages, a conservative estimate given the rising wages currently associated with rising inflation. Finally, the same source data for taxation used in calculating the previous decade tax contributions was used, assuming taxation policies remain similar in the decade ahead.