E.g., 12/09/2023
E.g., 12/09/2023
Lessons from the Local Level: DACA's Implementation and Impact on Education and Training Success

Since its launch in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has brought together immigration policy and the education and career-training fields in an unprecedented manner. Applicants for DACA must meet the program's educational requirements in order to qualify for relief from deportation and work authorization, relying on schools to furnish transcripts as evidence. For those who lack a high school diploma or equivalent, DACA carves out a role for adult education programs to help unauthorized immigrants meet the educational requirements to qualify for protection. And schools at K-12, adult education, and postsecondary levels have played an important role in outreach and sharing of information about DACA. Furthermore, college completion is particularly important for this group, as future DREAM Act-type legislation could be predicated on a postsecondary education requirement. 

This report examines the ways in which local educational institutions, legal service providers, and immigrant youth advocates have responded to the first phase of DACA. Based on extensive interviews with stakeholders in seven states—California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Texas—the report identifies initiatives undertaken by educational institutions and other community stakeholders to support DACA youth’s education and training success, and examine the impact of deferred action on grantees’ academic and career pursuits. It provides examples of promising practices, additional challenges, and key takeaways at the high school, postsecondary, and adult education levels, as well as an exploration of the nature and scope of DACA legal outreach initiatives.

Overall, this report’s findings demonstrate that while DACA has had a positive effect, with some schools reporting increased re-enrollment of high school dropouts for example, many DACA grantees face obstacles to educational attainment at adult education and postsecondary levels. Unauthorized immigrants are ineligible for federal financial aid or loans, and even in states where DACA youth have access to in-state tuition and scholarships, affordability is still often a challenge. Higher education opportunities for DACA youth continue to be driven largely by their state of residence, given the wide differences in college costs and state policies regarding tuition and financial aid for unauthorized students. In addition, adult education programs' responses to DACA have been hindered by severe capacity constraints as well as a limited understanding, in some cases, of this field's role in DACA implementation.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. High Schools

A. Promising Practices

B. Additional Challenges

C. Takeaways at the High School Level

III. Postsecondary Education

A. State Policies on College Admissions and Affordability

B. Promising Institutional Practices and Partnerships

C. Additional Challenges

D. Takeaways at the Postsecondary Level

IV. Adult Education

A. Promising Practices

B. Additional Challenges

C. Takeaways at the Adult Education Level

V. Legal Services

A. Key Actors and Stages in the Legal Services Response

B. Ongoing Efforts and Harder-to-Reach Populations

C. Collaboration and Coordination between Legal Service Providers and Educational Institutions

D. Additional Challenges

E. Takeaways at the Legal Services Level

VI. Conclusion