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Survey of DACA Recipients as Stark Reminder that Good Policy Changes Lives

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Democrats and the Biden administration need to deliver this year

Washington, DC – A new report and survey of DACA recipients published by the Center for American Progress (CAP) underscores how pro-immigrant policies like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program can transform lives and strengthen the country. However, in light of the precarious future of DACA due to the anti-immigrant judicial pipeline, the new survey report and findings also underscore why it’s so essential for the Biden administration and Democrats to find a way to take action and deliver for Dreamers and other undocumented populations.

The new CAP report, covered extensively by Telemundo and Univision, was published in conjunction with United We Dream and the National Immigration Law Center. It is based on a survey conducted by Dr. Tom K. Wong of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego of more than 1,000 DACA recipients across the country. As the CAP report summary notes, the survey:

“…illustrates the significant contributions that DACA recipients are making to the U.S. economy and their communities, with approximately 9 out of every 10 respondents currently enrolled in school or employed. However, this year’s responses also show that amid the backdrop of continued uncertainty for DACA recipients and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the gains made possible through DACA are vulnerable.

“Even with legal challenges threatening its future, DACA remains a critical lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people. The 2021 survey results make it abundantly clear why Congress must take immediate action to permanently protect DACA recipients—as well as people who have been unable to access the program due to the legal challenges—by providing them a pathway to citizenship.”

The Univision Noticias coverage of the report includes a quote from Arizona-based Dreamer Reyna Montoya, who states (America’s Voice translation): “That is our life, it is what has always happened and it feels like a political game,” pointing out that part of the uneasiness is because of the lack of permanent protections and the inability for Democrats and Republicans to achieve immigration reform.

According to Vanessa Cardenas, Deputy Director for America’s Voice:

The new survey again makes clear that pro-immigrant policies like DACA change lives, strengthen families and benefit the country as a whole. Delivering for Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants by enacting a path to citizenship remains an overwhelmingly popular position and a point of durable consensus among Americans.

Of course, that’s been true for most of the past two decades, but the combination of Republican obstruction and structural challenges facing our democracy have blocked needed progress. With Republicans going even further in their embrace of ugly nativism, it’s up to Democrats to deliver. 

Congress must act to protect vulnerable Dreamers – with and without DACA – as well as other undocumented immigrants. It’s up to Democrats to make it happen, either going through or around the parliamentarian. And if Congress cannot or will not act, the Biden administration must do everything in their power through Executive Action to step up for Dreamers and other immigrants who keep stepping up for America.