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DACA recipients making significant contributions to national economy

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

PHOENIX — Young undocumented immigrants protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are making significant contributions to the economy, a national survey finds.

The survey of more than 1,000 DACA recipients from 41 states, including Arizona, and the District of Columbia finds 96 percent of respondents are currently working or going to school. It also finds DACA recipients were able to get better jobs with higher wages.

“What we found this year confirms what we’ve seen in previous years, which is that DACA is having a major impact on participants, on their families, their communities and on the nation as a whole,” said Philip Wolgin, managing director for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress.

The survey was conducted by Tom Wong, an associate professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, on behalf of the Center for American Progress, the National Immigration Law Center, and United We Dream.

About half of the survey respondents said they moved to a job with better pay after receiving DACA. Their average hourly wage increased by 78 percent, from $10.32 per hour to $18.42 per hour. For DACA recipients 25 years and older, the average hourly wage increased even more, by 97 percent.

That results in higher tax revenues and economic growth at the local, state and federal levels. It also results in greater financial independence and security for DACA recipients. For respondents with children, 48 percent said their increased earnings have helped them pay for childcare expenses.

About half of DACA recipients also reported being able to move into a job that better fits their long-term career goals and offers health insurance or other benefits.

Six percent of respondents also said they started their own businesses and 14 percent said they purchased their first home after receiving DACA.

“What I think this survey really shows us is that DACA recipients all across the country are contributing,” Wolgin said. “Their higher wages mean more tax revenue. Their business creation means more jobs and economic activity.”

But authors of the survey pointed out the uncertainty of the DACA program created by the Trump administration’s decision to rescind it “is weighing heavily on its recipients.” There are several court cases dealing with DACA, including one out of Texas that challenges the legality of program.

The uncertainty of the program has led to about half of DACA recipients saying they think about being detained and deported at least once a day.

The fear of deportation is even greater among recipients with children, with three out of four saying they think about being separated from their kids and not being able to see them grow up because of deportation at least once a day.

There were about 28,000 DACA recipients living in Arizona when the Trump administration announced in January that it was ending the program. Those already benefiting from the program were allowed to continue renewing their applications thanks to a series of court rulings, but no new applications were accepted.

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