Research shows that having lawful presence, like DACA, allows undocumented students to make substantial educational gains. Undocumented students barred from receiving DACA, particularly those in high school, will face barriers many of their peers do not, including the inability in many states to obtain a driver’s license. They may also be ineligible for part-time jobs or to qualify for in-state tuition rates, even if they have lived there for years. These and other stressors can affect students’ mental health and, ultimately, their educational success.
School leaders like teachers and administrators also face challenges in supporting undocumented students. Most of these students are proficient in English, but newer students may continue to struggle learning a new language, especially if their family are not native English speakers. Also, schools often help students work through the traumatic events many of them may have experienced while coming to the U.S. from their countries of origin; this can present challenges to school administrators seeking to address student needs.
Beyond undocumented students, schools also interact daily with more than 3.9 million K-12 U.S. citizen students with undocumented parents. In all, about 8%, or some 4.5 million, of all K-12 students—undocumented and U.S. citizen—have an undocumented parent, with even higher shares in Texas (15%), Nevada (15%), California (12%), and New Jersey (11%).