Diploma, Please: Promoting Educational Attainment for DACA- and Potential DREAM Act-Eligible Youth
Two years after its launch, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has provided temporary relief from deportation to more than 580,000 unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. With an estimated 2.1 million young immigrants potentially eligible to benefit from the program now or in the future, many educators, community leaders, policymakers, and government officials are trying to understand how DACA and potentially DREAM Act criteria affect eligibility.
Several factors are thought to contribute to the reluctance of many unauthorized youth to sign up for the program, including the $465 application fee, fears of drawing attention to unauthorized family members, and general lack of knowledge about the program. But more significantly, DACA also requires that applicants who are not in school or who lack a high school diploma or its equivalent must enroll in an adult education or training program in order to qualify.
With the national adult education system showing a steep decline in capacity at precisely the time when hundreds of thousands need to enroll to qualify for DACA protections, the report makes clear the challenges facing educators and other stakeholders
The report explores the challenges to educational attainment facing three key subgroups of the DACA program: those under age 19, those age 19 and over without a high school diploma or equivalent, and those age 19 and older with only a high school diploma or equivalent. It provides a demographic snapshot of these groups and examines the impacts of DACA's unprecedented educational requirement on potential beneficiaries and the programs that serve them. Finally, the report offers recommendations for actions that policymakers, education and training program managers, and other stakeholders can take to support the educational success of these youth.
II. Snapshots: Population Demographics and System Capacity
A. Age Distribution
B. Educational Attainment
C. Family Income
D. English Proficiency and Education
F. Top States of Residence
G. Adult Education System Capacity
H. Program Enrollment Reported by Foreign-Born Adults with Low Educational Attainment
III. Key Needs of DACA-DREAM Applicants and Programs Seeking to Assist Them
A. Key Subgroup Needs
B. Program- and System-Level Needs
C. State Policy Contexts
D. Gaps in Federal Policy Coordination
IV. Lessons and Recommendations