Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

Visit the Midday Edition homepage

Survey: DACA Recipients Continue To Make Economic Strides

August 29, 2017 1:25 p.m.

Survey: DACA Recipients Continue To Make Economic Strides

GUEST:

Tom Wong, political science professor, UC San Diego

Related Story: Survey: DACA Recipients Continue To Make Economic Strides

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

A week from today, September 5, is the deadline that the Trump administration is facing from a group of Republican attorney generals. They want the president to phase out the DACA program by that date or they will sue the federal government. Even though, Trump has not expressed eagerness to shut down the program he is expected to announce a phaseout soon. Late last week, Jerry Brown, urged President Trump to keep the DACA program which shields some young immigrants and California attorney general, says that he is ready to stand up for it in court.Where goes from here depends on the president, if anyone wants to challenge the legality of the dock a program -- of the DACA program I'm ready to stand up . We are ready to stand up to say that it is defensible but it has been a total success and it is fully legal and totally American.There are nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, a new study looks at the study -- looks at the lives of these a document of people. Joining me is Tom Wong a for political science professor and co-author of the study commissioned by the Center for American progress. Tom, welcome to the program.Thank you for having me back.It just past the five year mark, can you walk us through some of the findings of this national survey, and what ways have the lives of young immigrants been improved over the DACA program?What we have found, and the largest Eddie today, we have 3063 DACA recipients pulled, the DACA not only positively benefits the lies of individual recipients but also their families and the American economy more generally. One of the punchlines is that 97% of those of that we pulled are currently working or are in school. For those that are in school, a full 94% responded that they are pursuing educational opportunities that were previously closed to them because of DACA. For those in school, 72%, are pursuing a BA or higher. For the first time, we were able to get a sense of some of the employers of DACA recipients. Here, what we found, is that 72% , 18 of the 25 top companies in the Fortune 500 employee DACA recipients. In addition, we see that 54% moved to a job that better fits their education and training, 69% moved to a job with better. They should with better pay, 71% have been able to help their families financially.If the financial impact has been so positive, why do a group of states want the program shut down? What kind of bird into they claim is putting on them?If we rewind a bit, to last year, there was a legal challenge to a very similar program. This one would have provided legal status to undocumented parents, if they had citizen children. Texas, similarly, argued against that program by saying that the provision of identity documents for those who would receive legal status would cause harm on the state of Texas. For each of those IDs that they issued, they would take a financial hit, it is interesting to note that in this case there were no discussion by the state of Texas about economic harm to the Texas economy, more generally. They were focused on the subsidized cost of drivers licenses.As you know, the Trump administration, is up against the September 5 deadline. What do we know about the president's position?The president campaigned on ending the DACA program, a few months ago, he said that, you know what, this is a very difficult decision for me. I am going to respond to it with heart. That led a lot of folks to have some optimism that the DACA policy would continue. Given the recent threat of legal action by the Texas Attorney General and nine other attorney generals, the administration is moving back towards the campaign position of ending DACA.If the administration, all of a sudden, stops issuing work permits under DACA, or stops renewing them, what effect does that have on DACA recipients?Imagining not having status or opportunities, like education, pursuing careers, essentially living out their dream. Then, been given a glimpse of what life might be like with legal status, that is what we are talking about if DACA ends, we are talking about taking the rug out from under undocumented young people but also those in their mid-20s and early 30s who are just beginning to hit their stride. We think about what is at stake, for these individuals, we are talking about 5%, they have started their own businesses. We're talking about individuals who have been able to get their dream job, and some cases, and advance in their careers. We are talking about stunting all of these gains if DACA were to aunt. The data are very clear, over the past several years the data has shown that DACA has positive impacts, not just for individual recipients, but the American economy more generally. With that the empirical evidence pointing to the positive effects of DACA, one can only imagine that the decision to and that now is not based on policy considerations but on political considerations.I have been speaking with Tom Wong, you can find a link to his DACA study on our website on KPBS.org. [ music ]