E.g., 04/16/2024
E.g., 04/16/2024
DACA at Four: Participation in the Deferred Action Program and Impacts on Recipients

August 2016 marked the fourth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama administration initiative that began on August 15, 2012. Since its launch, DACA has provided a two-year reprieve from deportation and temporary eligibility to work legally in the United States to more than 728,000 unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children.

This issue brief provides the latest MPI estimates of the populations immediately and potentially eligible to apply for DACA, and presents trends in application rates nationwide and by state, as well as by country of birth. It also examines the impacts that deferred action has had on recipients.

MPI estimates that as of 2016, 1.3 million young adults ages 15 and older were immediately eligible to apply for DACA. The number rises to 1.7 million when including an additional 398,000 unauthorized immigrants who met all criteria but for high school graduation or current school enrollment. Examining DACA application rates against the MPI population estimates suggests that 63 percent of the immediately eligible population had applied as of March 2016; the rate fell to 48 percent when including the share that did not appear to meet the educational criteria but may have enrolled in a qualifying adult education population.

What is clear is that the vast majority eligible to renew the two-year DACA grant have done so—93 percent MPI estimates. These near-universal renewal rates suggest the initiative is providing valuable benefits to participants.

Table of Contents 

I. Estimates of DACA-Eligible Populations

II. Recent Policy Developments

III. DACA at the Four-Year Mark

IV. Importance of DACA for the Immigrant Population

V. Conclusion