Friday, November 8, 2019
Ahead of the November 12, 2019 Supreme Court hearing regarding the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Immigration Initiative at Harvard (IIH) released a new report highlighting the program’s long-term impacts on young immigrants. “The Long-Term Impact of DACA: Forging Futures Despite DACA’s Uncertainty” outlines new findings from the National UnDACAmented Research Project (NURP), a longitudinal national study aimed at understanding the impacts of DACA beneficiaries. The study, directed by Harvard Professor of Education Roberto Gonzales, draws on a diverse sample of 408 DACA beneficiaries from six states, representing an array of racial, ethnic, economic and educational backgrounds.
The key finding is that DACA has served as a vehicle for social mobility for its beneficiaries and their families over the last 7 years. In doing so, it points to the incremental, yet dramatic, changes in the employment, educational, and well-being trajectories of these respondents. We see them taking advantage of new employment opportunities, finding their way back to educational programs, and building on these opportunities to start careers and advance in their jobs. Consequently, over these seven years, they have improved upon their quality of life: they have settled into new neighborhoods and have found better living arrangements, and they are now in a better position to support their families. They have also dramatically improved their well-being—they are less anxious, more confident and secure, and they feel a greater sense of belonging.
But all of that could change very quickly. With the future of DACA up in the air, the authors conclude with a set of recommendations for policy makers and community stakeholders. Key among them: "Given the uncertainty of DACA’s future, access to higher education benefits, professional development, occupational licensure, and driver’s licenses must be delinked from DACA status."