Economic Justice and Equity go Hand in Hand: The End of DACA Threatens Our Values and Diminishes Our Economic Future

Updated September 5, 2017

On behalf of the Trump Administration, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program temporarily shields from deportation undocumented youth and young adults who came to this country before the age of 16 and who meet other requirements. The Administration will “wind down” the DACA program according to terms spelled out in a Department of Homeland Security memorandum issued today.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA has opened doors to opportunity for almost one million undocumented young people. Offering DACA recipients access to education and work, the chance to fulfill their dreams, to give back to their families and communities unites all of us who believe in equity, social mobility, and justice. Ending the policy and subjecting undocumented youth to deportation contradicts those very values and goals that are so fundamental to American democracy.

Economic justice and equity go hand in hand. That’s why Achieving the Dream believes that access to a high-quality education in an inclusive environment is the right of all individuals and imperative for the advancement of a strong democracy and workforce. We believe this right extends to undocumented young people who were brought to the United States by their parents before they were old enough to choose where to live.

DACA youth are fulfilling their potential by earning degrees and helping to grow the economy. The results of an August 2017 national survey of more than 3,000 shows DACA recipients have seized the opportunities afforded them. Forty-five percent of respondents are in school, and 72 percent are pursuing bachelor’s degrees or higher. Ninety-one percent of respondents are employed, and the average hourly wage of respondents increased from $10.29 to $17.46 per hour after receiving DACA. Nearly two-thirds of respondents reported purchasing their first car at an average cost of $16,469. The data also show that 16 percent of respondents purchased their first home after receiving DACA; among respondents 25 years and older, the percentage rises to 24 percent. Previous research has shown that DACA beneficiaries will contribute $460.3 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade

Achieving the Dream was created to ensure that millions of students, including undocumented students, could earn certificates and degrees and achieve economic success. Through coaching, peer connections, and innovation, Achieving the Dream’s national network of more than 220 community colleges in 39 states has been doing the hard work of transformative change, all to enable students just like these undocumented youth to be successful. These achieving students are our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends. They are full participants in our society, pursuing exactly the academic, personal and economic goals that ensure communities can thrive. They deserve better.

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