About 28,000 young immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley will be impacted if DACA is taken away, according to data from Migration Policy Institute.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and it is a program that protects young immigrants from deportation and provides work permits.
MPI data shows Hidalgo County is home to an estimated 21,000 DACA eligible individuals. In Cameron County, there are an estimated 7,000 eligible individuals. It did not include data for Starr and Willacy County. Texas is the state with the second highest DACA-eligible population with about 271,000 individuals.
While the future of DACA has been uncertain since Donald Trump took office in January, immigrant communities have received mixed messages from the president on whether he would do away with the deferred action program. That uncertainty intensified in June when Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General asking to “phase out” DACA, leading a 10-state coalition against the program.
“Immigrant youth fought to create the DACA program and we will fight like hell to defend it,” Greisa Martinez Rosas, Advocacy Director and DACA-beneficiary of United We Dream said in a statement. “Killing DACA is a violent white supremacist priority.”
In the latest developments, a report from McClatchy D.C. Bureau said on Thursday that Trump “will likely let the immigrants known as Dreamers stay in the United States until their work permits run out, according to multiple people familiar with the policy negotiation.”
The deferred action program has helped hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth positively transform their lives, as reported in a 2016 nationwide survey by United We Dream, the Center for American Progress, and the National Immigration Law Center.
Key findings in the survey include:
- 95% currently working or in school
- 48% got a job with better working conditions
- 63% got a better paying job
- 90% got a driver’s license or state ID
- 54% bought their first car
- 12% bought their first home
- 41% have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen over the age of 18, 80% of whom are registered to vote
“Trump said that immigrant youth could ‘rest easy’ and Speaker Ryan said we were safe, but has done nothing,” Martinez Rosas said. “Now Trump is considering taking protections away from me and 800,000 immigrant youth to make us vulnerable to being chased down by ICE agents, locked in detention camps and deported. This is outrageous!”
According to Center for American Progress, removing DACA workers would result in $6,294,162,134 estimated annual GDP loss in Texas.