Some 800,000 people nationwide – at least a quarter of them in California – who immigrated to this country as children are hanging in the balance as President Donald Trump mulls over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Of the country’s metropolitan areas, Southern California has the largest share of DACA recipients with at least 118,000 to 130,000 applications approved since 2012 (many of which have been renewed), according to Migration Policy Institute and Southern California News Group estimates comparing past and recent U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services data.
Most are from Mexico and South America, but a not insignificant number are from China, South Korea and other parts of Asia.
Local DACA recipients so far appear to represent more than half of the 201,000 total people who currently qualify in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration introduced DACA in 2012 to allow undocumented youth who meet several requirements to obtain renewable two-year deferred action decisions, protecting them from deportation and opening the door for work authorization in the U.S.
The program is seen by some as a gateway to a stable American life for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Others see it as lax immigration policy that burdens the system.
DACA recipients, or “Dreamers,” surveyed this month reported earning higher wages and pursuing more education as a direct result of the program. Of 3,063 respondents in 46 states:
- The median age was 25; the median age when they arrived in the U.S. as children was 6. More than half of those surveyed were ages 22 to 28.
- 17 percent were married to an American citizen and 26 percent had a child who is an American citizen.
- 91 percent were employed. After receiving deferred action, 69 percent got a job with better pay, 5 percent started their own business, 65 percent bought their first car and 16 percent bought a house. Of those now employed, 56 percent were unemployed before DACA.
- Median hours worked per week was 40 and median income was $32,000. Before receiving deferred action, median hours worked per week was the same, but median annual income was $19,000.
- 98 percent were bilingual and most said their ability to speak two languages is an asset to their employer.
- 45 percent were in school; 71 percent of those in school were pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher. (Earlier this…