Tick Tock: The Impact of DACA on Latinos


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President Donald Trump’s administration recently rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an American immigration policy signed by President Barack Obama five years ago.

DACA allows unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to work, go to school, and get a driver’s license without fear of deportation.

Latino farm boy in poverty and food insecurityThe clock is now ticking for a Congressional fix for people who qualify for DACA.

If not, recipients could lose their status starting March 5, 2018.

Who are DACA recipients?

Since the program started in June 2012, most DACA recipients are in Latino-centric states: California (222,795) followed by Texas (124,000) and Illinois (42,376).

Unauthorized immigrants from Mexico make up more than three-quarters of all DACA recipients.

More than 75% of the recipients are employed with an average wage of $17 an hour, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Nearly 790,000 young unauthorized immigrants have received work permits and deportation relief through the federal government according to the latest federal data, Pew Research reports.

How DACA impacts recipients

There’s an undeniable relationship between attaining quality education and living a healthier life.

Latinos are both enrolling in college and getting degrees.

The vast majority of DACA beneficiaries are college students or graduates with a median age of 22.

DACA also improves mental health. A 2017 Science study found that DACA improved mental health outcomes for the children of DACA-eligible mothers. A 2017 Lancet Public Health study found that DACA-eligible individuals had better mental health outcomes as a result of their DACA-eligibility.

However, if Congress does not move to protect DACA recipients, nearly 300,000 people could lose their status and be at risk for deportation in 2018—and more than 320,000 between January and August 2019.

This could potentially separate families, create health and education disparities, and increase stress and worsen mental health for recipients, Newsweek reports.

“The threat of deportation alone would likely have a negative impact on families,” according to FiveThirtyEight‘s Anna Maria Barry-Jester. “Immigration-related stress and anxiety have been shown to have negative health effects … Generally, researchers believe the stress that stems from the fear of having a parent deported has far-reaching, negative effects on the health of children.”

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