If you’re familiar with DACA—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—you probably know just how beneficial the program can be. First put into action in 2012, DACA was created to give childhood immigrants deportation deferrals and the opportunity to study or receive work permits. It’s a good day when we can see concrete, quantifiable results of this program—and that’s exactly what a nationwide study has given us.
DACA, which turned three years old this June, has already helped around 665,000 eligible individuals. While this number is promising, it can’t really tell us how DACA protected individuals have personally been impacted… and that’s where the latest survey fills us in. Conducted by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Center for American Progress, and the University of California, San Diego’s Tom K. Wong, the survey gives us some insight into just how DACA has changed lives. (Wong is currently working on a broader study, the Administrative Relief Impact and Implementation Study, which this recent survey is just one part of).
So what do these survey results tell us? In terms of education, DACA students are doing more than they previously could—92% said they have taken advantage of educational opportunities they otherwise would not have access to. And this education is not going to waste… 57% of employed DACA recipients said they found a job that better fits with their training and schooling. 70% of those pursuing an educating are also working at the same time, pointing to an encouraging work-school balance that many DACA recipients are taking on.
The economic impact of DACA is just as promising. 69% of recipients found a better paying job, and the survey found that there was an average 45% increase in wages from pre-DACA to post-DACA, proving that the program has enabled eligible individuals to pursue better jobs and opportunities. This only makes sense—the freedom to access work permits and temporary relief from the threat of deportation naturally makes finding and keeping a job easier to do—but having the numbers to back up this idea really point to further success for the young program.
These numbers are encouraging… but not just because they point to direct benefits for DACA recipients alone. The entire country can benefit from things like increased wages, better quality of life, and more educated students joining the work force. These factors lead to higher tax revenue, a more active economy, and thriving industries.
Granted, the survey is relatively small at 546 respondents, but it does offer us a glimpse at what further DACA and similar initiatives could do for our country—for both immigrants and native born citizens. Remember that DACA is still a young program, and even these results do not include individuals who would be eligible for the expanded form of DACA (which was introduced in 2014 but still has not been implemented). It’s likely that the expanded program would reveal even more long term benefits than what we’ve already seen.