WASHINGTON, DC – FWD.us released new analysis today making clear that nine years after implementation, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients’ most important life milestones —having children, pursuing higher education, and buying a home—have happened in the United States. These milestones, celebrated in the only country most Dreamers have ever known as home, have been possible in part to the protections and opportunities provided by DACA. However, the futures of hundreds of thousands of young people remain in jeopardy; the Biden Administration must act urgently to fortify the DACA policy, and Congress must pass legislative relief and protections for Dreamers and other undocumented people without further delay.
FWD.us’ new analysis makes clear how significantly DACA recipients’ lives have changed in the years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was implemented nine years ago. Thanks in part to DACA, Dreamers have grown to become graduates, professionals, and parents to more than 400,000 U.S. citizen children. With both its opportunities and limitations, DACA has unquestionably changed the course of their lives. Their futures and their families’ futures are deeply tied to the future of the policy.
New Analysis on DACA Recipients Reaching Milestones & Contributing to Our Economy and Communities, 9 Years After Implementation:
The average DACA recipient arrived in the U.S. at 7 years old, and the vast majority—more than 85%—arrived before they were teenagers. The average year of arrival for DACA recipients is 1999, meaning the average DACA recipient has lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years.
More than 4 in 10 have been to college, and at least 15% have finished a post-secondary degree. Roughly a quarter (27%) are currently in school.
The vast majority of DACA recipients, 77%, are currently working in the labor force.
Many DACA recipients are putting their education and talents to work in critical industries, like construction (58,000), transportation (41,000), healthcare (38,000), and education (20,000).
Roughly 400,000 recipients or their spouse or partner have purchased a car.
DACA recipients have also grown their families and set down further roots in communities across the country: an estimated 140,000, or about a quarter, live in a home that they purchased themselves.
At least 150,000 DACA recipients have gotten married since the policy was announced, including about 90,000 to a U.S. citizen spouse.
More than 200,000 are parents, with about an estimated 100,000 becoming parents for the first time since receiving DACA. Almost all of the 400,000 children born to DACA-recipients are U.S. citizens.
Nereyda, a Montana DACA recipient who serves as an essential healthcare worker, described the moment she found out that her request for DACA was approved: “I just felt a sense of relief, like somebody untied my hands. You know, I could finally move. I could finally offer my kids a better future, a better life. It was like a key to a door.”
Yet for all of its benefits, DACA also comes with serious limitations. DACA protections must be reissued every two years, and a series of court challenges—as well as four years’ of the Trump Administration’s attempts to end the policy—have shown acutely that the protections afforded by DACA are no substitute for transformative immigration relief that Congress must pass. Additionally, millions of Dreamers who came to the U.S. at a young age aren’t eligible to request DACA, including nearly all of the 600,000 undocumented K-12 students in classrooms across the U.S.
After decades in the United States and nine years living with DACA, these hundreds of thousands of undocumented Americans face an uncertain future without urgent action from Congress and the Biden Administration to allow them to continue living the lives that they have built here. The Biden Administration needs to carry through fully on its promise to fortify and strengthen the DACA policy through formal rulemaking. Ultimately, a pathway to citizenship is critical to keep families together and drive America’s recovery, and must be a priority even alongside these narrower steps.