Who are the Dreamers of DACA?

By: Steve Barracca, professor, EKU Department of Government and Economics

The big news out of Washington today is that the Trump Administration rescinded DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.   After a six-month delay, this decision ends the executive order enacted by President Obama in 2012, which allowed the children of undocumented immigrants to apply for renewable two-year work permits, get drivers licenses, enroll in college, and receive other federal benefits, while being granted a reprieve from deportation.   

By ending DACA, the Trump administration places responsibility for the fate of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients in the hands of the U.S. Congress.  For a good analysis of the politics and prospects of a legislative solution, see Amber Phillips’s recent piece in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/09/05/trump-could-hand-the-fate-of-dreamers-over-to-an-extraordinarily-dysfunctional-congress/?  Below I provided some lesser known facts about the beneficiaries of the program, commonly known as “Dreamers.”  These statistics come from Tom K. Wong, et al., 2017 National DACA Study, which surveyed 3,063 enrollees (see https://cdn.americanprogress.org/content/uploads/2017/08/27164928/Wong-E).   

  • Current median age: 25; Median age when first came to the United States: 6.
  • Percent currently employed: 91.4.
  • Percent getting their first driver’s license after their DACA application was approved: 79.7.
  • Of respondents currently employed, the median wage before DACA was $9.59 per hour and $15.35 after DACA.  Median annual earnings before DACA were $19,000 and $32,000 after.
  • After receiving DACA, 65.3% reported pursuing educational opportunities that they previously could not.
  • 45% of respondents were currently enrolled in school.  When asked what degree they were currently pursuing, 53% said a Bachelor’s degree and 13% said a Master’s degree.
  • 44.6% have an immediate family member (i.e., a parent, sibling, spouse, or child) who is a U.S. citizen and 18 years or older.


Published on September 06, 2017