E.g., 12/06/2023
E.g., 12/06/2023
The Education and Work Profiles of the DACA Population

Since its launch by the Obama administration in August 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has provided work authorization and a two-year reprieve from deportation to nearly 800,000 unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children. Having marked its fifth anniversary, the program—and its recipients—face an uncertain future, as ten state attorneys general have pledged to challenge the program in court if the Trump administration does not phase it out by September 5, 2017.

This issue brief employs a unique MPI methodology to analyze the educational and labor force characteristics of the young adults eligible for DACA, comparing their outcomes to the overall U.S. population in the 15-32 age bracket, as well as similarly aged unauthorized immigrants ineligible for DACA.

Compared to DACA-ineligible unauthorized immigrants, many of whom hold jobs that require manual labor, DACA-eligible workers are most commonly found in white-collar occupations. One-fourth of DACA-eligible workers are also enrolled in higher education—a finding that suggests many need to work to afford college, but also that better jobs may be on the horizon as they complete their degrees. For both educational attainment and occupational distribution, gender makes a difference. Although fewer women than men are eligible for DACA, they are more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree and a higher-skilled job.

As policymakers debate the future of the DACA program, the stakes are significant. If the deferred action program is terminated, most DACA-eligible workers in medium- and high-skilled occupations will be unable to continue this work, while those enrolled in higher education may be unable or have fewer incentives to complete their degrees.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction: The Status of DACA at Five

A. Eligibility and Enrollment

B. Outcomes for DACA Recipients: Findings from Early Surveys

II. Educational Attainment of the Immediately Eligible DACA Population

III. Labor Force Participation of the Immediately Eligible Population

IV. Occupational Distribution of the DACA-Eligible Population

A. Occupational Groups for DACA-Eligible Workers Who Also Attend College

B. Gender Differences in Occupational Distribution of DACA-Eligible Workers

V. Conclusion