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12 states will account for three-quarters of lost jobs if DACA ends

Projections of impacts on state employment if the Supreme Court allows the Trump Administration to fully end the DACA policy

If the Supreme Court allows the Trump Administration to fully end DACA and work authorization for Dreamers, three-quarters of the roughly 22,000 jobs that will be lost each month will be concentrated in 12 states across the country.

The economic consequences of ending DACA will be shouldered by the states and communities where Dreamers live, particularly because recipients will no longer be allowed to work; if current DACA recipients are unable to renew or maintain their work authorization, employers will be forced to terminate their employment, incurring significant turnover costs and leaving jobs unfilled. Research has found that 89% of DACA recipients are working because of the policy.

These 12 states would each lose an average of 1,660 jobs each month, with California (6,800) and Texas (3,930) seeing the largest average monthly losses. Other states would also be substantially impacted, including larger states like New York (1,050) and Florida (920), and smaller states with relatively high DACA populations, such as Georgia (760) and Colorado (540).

Ending DACA during a national emergency and global health crisis would be catastrophic. Experts estimate more than 125,000 DACA recipients are working in essential industries, including more than 40,000 in healthcare; DACA recipients have been playing a critical frontline role in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Lawyers representing DACA-recipients sent a letter to the Supreme Court in March, urging the Court to weigh the high costs of ending work authorization during a national emergency.

Ending DACA would force thousands of teachers out of jobs as schools struggle to adapt to new challenges and methods of teaching, and would also jeopardize hundreds of entrepreneurs, many of whom have created jobs for native-born Americans and are already struggling to keep their businesses open. Main street businesses like retail shops and restaurants would also be particularly hit hard during these already difficult times, as these are the industries where the most DACA recipients are employed.

When DACA first came before the Supreme Court, 24 states and the District of Columbia filed briefs attesting to the economic consequences of ending the policy. One brief explained, “With work authorization, many DACA recipients have obtained new or higher paying jobs, allowing them to be productive members of our communities. … Businesses throughout the States will face a loss of demand for goods and services from the diminished purchasing power of the Dreamers and their families, while the state and local governments will see reduced tax revenues.”

DACA recipients have made long-term decisions, such as enrolling in school, purchasing homes, and investing in businesses, that will need to be abandoned if Dreamers cannot work and live their days with certainty. Further exposing Dreamers to the threat of deportation will undermine trust built between law enforcement and immigrant communities, weakening public safety. And it will impose heavy costs on these communities, as an amicus brief filed by 109 cities, counties, and municipalities across the country, explained:

“The DACA program has made our communities more economically robust and discernibly safer. Rescission will not only deal amici the staggering loss of hundreds of thousands of individual economic contributors and cause fear that undermines public health and safety, but it will also force [cities, counties, municipalities, and local government advocacy organizations] to operate and fund the social safety net that will be needed to catch recipients’ families when jobs are lost, health insurance plans are discontinued, college educations are forfeited, homes fall into foreclosure, and families are forced apart by low-priority removals.”

Note on methodology

  • These projections are based on the most recent available reports from the Department of Homeland Security identifying how many DACA recipients live in each state. Note that DHS estimates round to the nearest ten, so totals may not add up perfectly. Because territories are not included, listed totals are lower than the overall active DACA enrollment. Note that DHS estimates round to the nearest ten, so totals may not add up perfectly. Job losses are estimated assuming 89% of DACA recipients are employed, based on survey data from Tom Wong of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego; United We Dream; the National Immigration Law Center; and the Center for American Progress.

Latest DACA Data (As of March 31, 2020)

  • Department of Homeland Security, “Approximate Active DACA Recipients: As of March 31, 2020,” submitted to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California in “Regents of University of California et al v. United States Department of Homeland Security et al,” Case 3:17-cv-05211-WHA, Document 294-2, filed 04/01/20.
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