In 2015, United Way of California’s report on poverty, Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California, found that 31% of households in California do not earn sufficient income to meet life’s basic needs. Approximately half of those, 1.5 million, are Latino-led households.
While it is too early to estimate the long-term impact of the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Latino households in California have the most to lose than any demographic group nationally.
According to EdSource, over 242,000 young people in California have attained DACA status since it was announced by executive order in March 2012. That is approximately 30% of the entire national DACA population. Of those, approximately 90% of DACA recipients identify themselves as Hispanic/Latino according to a recent survey by the Center for American Progress.
The potential revocation of DACA status threatens the ability of this young population to continue to contribute to the state and national economy, increase their educational attainment, and attain financial security for the rest of their lives. Students under the DACA program, for example, are already ineligible to apply for federal student loans forcing them to pay more and work harder than native-born students. Hence, DACA recipients may be more compelled to apply for private student loans (with higher interest rates), borrow from family members (threatening their already precarious financial status), and take advantage of pay lending services (possibly placing them on an ongoing cycle of debt).
These disadvantages only serve to accentuate educational hardships facing Latinos in California. Measure of America’s human development report, A Portrait of California 2014-15, finds that Latinos have among the poorest educational attainment scores in the state with poor school enrollment rates for those aged 3-24 (76%), and poor graduation rates among those who have completed high school (60%), bachelor’s degrees (11%) and graduate degrees (3%). However, the Center for American Progress notes promising signs for DACA recipients as nearly 61% reported they were able to pursue educational opportunities not previously available in a survey conducted in September 2016. As a result, a potential repeal of DACA would further compromise the educational aspirations and economic opportunities for Latinos in California.
United Ways of California is proud to work with United Ways throughout the state to improve health, education and financial results for low-income children and families. The threatened revocation of DACA compromises our ability to fulfill this important mission. We hope you will join us in our advocacy efforts to keep the DACA program in place.