Curious about DACA, its protections, and how DACA recipients contribute to the U.S economy? We cover everything you need to know below. Read on!
What is DACA?
DACA (Dream and Promise Act) stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. With DACA, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as childhood arrivals receives the following:
- Renewable two-year deferred action from deportation; and
- Eligibility for a work authorization in the United States.
While DACA doesn’t lead to citizenship, these undocumented immigrants, known as DREAMers, have had success in the program. Wages, employment status, and mental health has improved greatly for DREAMers.
DACA protections last for two years, and can be renewed after.
Who Are DACA Recipients?
DACA recipients are young, undocumented immigrants who entered the United States unlawfully before their 16th birthday.
Why Young, Undocumented Immigrants?
Young, undocumented immigrants basically have their lives in limbo.
Once documented and under DACA status, however, new opportunities open up for them. Jobs, spaces, and higher education are more probable for them to access.
As a result, economic growth happens in the US.
Are You Eligible for DACA?
DACA recipients’ eligibility is as follows:
- Must have entered the United States unlawfully before their 16th birthday
- Must have been born on June 16, 1981, or later
- Must have been below the age of 31 on June 15, 2012.
- Must have been in the United States by June 15, 2012
- Must have been physically present during their consideration for deferred action in DACA with the US citizenship and immigration services
- Must have obtained a high school diploma or GED
- Must have been honorably discharged from armed forces
- Must have not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanors
If you fulfill the requirements above, then yes, you’re part of the DACA-eligible individuals!
DACA’s Economic Contributions to the U.S Economy
The approximate active DACA recipients stand at 600,000, while DACA-eligible recipients remain at over a million.
The economic and fiscal impact of this number can’t be underestimated, but we’re here to outline Dreamers economic contributions one by one:
#1 Earnings and Earning Potential
DACA recipients tend to be of working age. If not, most of them will reach working age within a few years at most.
Many of the younger DACA-eligible immigrants are enrolled in school, indicating that they have yet to reach their full earning potential.
Nevertheless, by 2017, over 93 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants were employed.
Their economic impact has a major effect to the only country that they recognize as their home.
According to the New American Economy Research Fund, DACA-eligible immigrants collectively earn more than $20 billion per year, most of which is either paid out in federal taxes or spent in the US economy.
This amount almost certainly understate the significant contributions these people would make if their status was stabilized by supportive Congressional legislation.
DREAMers in Essential Industries
About 45 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants — more than half a million people— work in in essential industries. This rate is more than twice as high as the US population as a whole.
Here are the numbers of DACA-eligible young people in essential industries:
- Over 60,000 in healthcare, including about 24,000 who work in hospitals. Over 13,000 work as health aides; another 10,000 work as nurses and over 6,000 work as medical assistants. Many are fighting on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Over 160,000 work in essential food and restaurant services.
- Over 20,000 work in supermarkets.
- Around 14,000 work in agriculture, helping to guarantee the nation’’s food supply.
- Over 100,000 work in the construction industry.
The economic impacts of their contribution as essential workers is vast.
Entrepreneurship and Job Creation
Previous research, including a nationwide survey, found that among DACA recipients (people who have registered for DACA), about five percent started their own business after receiving DACA benefits.
This number climbs to eight percent among DACA recipients who are 25 years and older. Since many of these new DACA businesses employ American workers, it might be fruitful to compare these figures with the three percent entrepreneurship rate among the US population as a whole.
Increased Purchasing Power
Over 60 percent of US jobs are in the service sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics The retail, healthcare, and hospitality sectors combined provide over 135 million jobs. The service-oriented nature of the US economy means that a strong consumer base is a critical element of national prosperity.
Due to their sheer numbers as well as their presence in the US, DACA-eligible immigrants are an important part of the consumer base of the US economy.
DACA-eligible immigrants collectively possess substantial spending power in terms of discretionary income, or how much income is left over after paying taxes.
DACA-eligible immigrants enjoyed over $19 billion in spending power in 2017. That number continues to grow, as young DACA-eligible immigrants graduate from school and enter the workforce.
Tax Contributions of DACA-Eligible Workers
DACA-eligible immigrants pay over $2 billion dollars in taxes to the federal government, in addition to almost that much in state and local taxes. These taxes are used to fund public schools, police forces, sanitation services and other vital functions.
Despite their significant tax contributions, DACA-eligible immigrants do not use many public services, if for no reason other than the fact that they are ineligible for most of them. DACA-eligible immigrants are ineligible for the following public benefits, regardless of whether they have registered for DACA benefits:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“food stamps”);
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“welfare”);
- Health insurance purchased on Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) marketplaces;
- Federal student aid;
- In-state tuition (in most states);
- Non-emergency Medicaid benefits; and
- Social Security Supplemental Income (SSI).
Rescinding DACA Will Harm the US Economy
High employment rates, high tax contributions and minimal use of public benefits mean that DACA-eligible immigrants contribute much more than they take from the US economy — and that the US economy would suffer from the loss of the services they provide.
Things to Remember About DACA in 2022
#1 You Can No Longer Be a First Time-Applicant
First-time applicants are currently barred from applying to the DACA program! You may use the following information if you’re renewing, but until the DACA program ruling is changed, first-time applicants will not be considered.
Why Did This Happen?
A federal judge in Texas is the main actor in repealing DACA in the Biden administration.
However, this isn’t the first time new DACA recipients were barred from the program. The DACA was first started by the Obama administration, but the Trump administration stopped new applications.
A federal government judge renewed the DACA program in 2020 after the Trump administration barred it, but it was, as we mentioned, repealed recently by a Texan judge.
You’re considered one of the current DACA recipients if your application was approved before July 16, 2021. You can still renew as well.
The Department of Homeland Security can also still accept initial DACA filings, but will not be able to approve it.
To date, there has been widespread support regarding the reinstatement of DACA from organizations, activists, and politicians.
The National Immigration Law Center, Immigrant Legal Resource Center and Migration Policy Institute regularly conducts studies and surveys regarding DACA recipients. Some statistic include at least one parent of over 250,000 residences being a DACA recipient.
However, it has been found that the amount of DACA recipients are still lacking – only three percent of Chinese nationals, for example, held DACA status among those eligible. More work must be done to create permanent protection for DACA recipients.
#2 You Can Renew Your DACA Certification
Congratulations – you’re here to renew your DACA recipient status! To do so, simply follow these steps:
#1 Make Sure You Meet Eligibility Conditions
To be eligible for a DACA renewal, you must have stayed in the United States since your most recent DACA request. You must not have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. You must also not have left the US by or after the 15th of August, 2012, without advance parole.
#2 Complete Two Forms and additional documents
You have to complete and submit the following:
- Form I-821D – Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program form
- Form I-765 – Application for employment authorization
- The USCIS Form I-765W worksheet
If it applies, you should also supply the following additional documents:
- Removal proceedings or criminal history previously not submitted to the USCIS
- Proof of advanced parole if you’ve traveled outside of the United States
- Proof of any legal name change done before the renewal
To avoid processing delays, respond to evidence requests and submit all these additional documents in time.
#3 Pay the Fee
A renewal fee of $495 must be paid.
Now, all you have to do is wait as the USCIS processes your request within 120 days!
#3 There Are Only Certain States Where Medicaid Is Available
DACA eligibility for Medicaid is not on the national level just yet. Instead, only the active DACA recipients in Minnesota, California, and New York can apply for Medicaid.
#4 DACA Beneficiaries Are Not Lawful Citizens
Despite the protection that the DACA eligible population enjoys, the program itself doesn’t make DACA recipients lawful permanent residents or U.S citizens.
However, there may be a path for DACA recipients to hold a green card. DACA recipients can enjoy the economic benefits of becoming a U.S citizen through marriage-based green cards.
#5 You Have to Apply for Authorization to Travel
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program recipients can apply for something called the Advance Parole. The Advanced Parole is essentially a way for DACA recipients to travel abroad for specific reasons, mainly education, employment or work authorization, or humanitarian purposes.
Due to their legal status, DACA recipients cannot travel abroad for vacations.
#6 DACA Students Cannot Apply for Financial Aid
Federal financial aid is unfortunately not within the DACA recipients’ protections. However, some states may allow DACA recipients to receive local or state-wide financial aid.
Why We Shouldn’t Be Ending DACA
DACA is essential to American progress and the American economy.
The Loss is Unimaginable
According to the CATO institute, more than $60 billion may be lost if DACA recipients are deported. Removing DACA recipients from the program only worsens both local economies and the nation at large. The economic impact is worse: economic growth will go down by nearly $300 billion.
They pay more than $2 billion in tax revenue alone.
The Benefits Provided Shouldn’t Be Taken Away
After calls to pass legislation to provide DACA protection, more than 800,000 young adults seize the opportunity to seek education, housing, employment, and businesses.
These benefits mean the world to DACA recipients. Just the temporary protection will allow them to make Dreamers’ citizen children and families day-to-day living easier, allowing them to make rental payments annually, manage mortgage payments, and directly contribute to American progress.
Their Contribution to the U.S Gross Domestic Product Must Be Recognized
If DACA’s permanent protections are eliminated, the U.S would lose Dreamers’ contributions of nearly $460 billion to our GDP.
Dreamers, despite the lack of immigrant legal status, contribute a lot to American economy.
We hope this article shed some light on DACA, its recipients, and their contributions. Contact us here for more information.
See you in the next article!