Jun 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

11 years of Dreamers

DACA recipients per 100k residents
Data: U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Homeland Security. Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

More than 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children have grown up across the country even as their protection under an Obama-era program is threatened by the courts.

Why it matters: It's been 11 years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program launched in June of 2012 to provide work permits and protection from deportation for these so-called "Dreamers."

  • The program survived efforts by the Trump administration to dismantle it, but Congress has yet to provide the population any certainty about their future legal status.
  • The Biden administration has tried to fortify the policy against legal challenges, but a Texas judge could soon end DACA's protections for more than half a million beneficiaries.

Between the lines: Polling shows that Americans widely support providing Dreamers legal status. That included more than half of Republicans in a 2020 Pew Research Center survey.

By the numbers: As of the end of 2022, there were more than 580,000 active participants in the DACA program, according to U.S. government data.

  • By total population and per capita, California is home to more Dreamers than any other state — more than 165,000.

What they're saying: "They are our doctors, our teachers, and our small business owners," President Biden said in a Thursday statement. "Dreamers strengthen our economy, enrich our workplaces, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, many served their communities on the frontlines."

  • Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pushed on the Senate floor on Thursday for passage of his bipartisan legislation providing a permanent legal status for the population.
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