DACA Decision Makes America Stronger

by Marcelo Suárez-Orozco

Statement of Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Wasserman Dean, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies re Supreme Court Ruling on DACA


Marcelo Suárez-Orozco

Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court rejecting the “arbitrary and capricious,” and I would argue mean spirited and short sighted efforts by the Trump administration effort to end DACA, is a rare and very welcome bit of news in these difficult times.

It is a tremendously important ruling, with significant immediate and long-term implications for the future of our nation.

DACA has provided a safe and reliable mechanism through which young immigrants could integrate more fully into American communities, enabling approximately 750,000 young immigrants to contribute to communities across the country. That number not only includes nearly 30,000 health care professionals battling the COVID-19 pandemic, but tens of thousands of other essential workers, including more than 9,000 teachers.

The program provides young immigrants with many important benefits, including access to educational success, higher rates of employment, and housing and transportation stability. Research established that their participation in DACA has had important implications for civic engagement and leadership. Ninety-four percent of DACA recipients indicated a wish to apply for U.S. citizenship if eligible. Recipients say their DACA status has fundamentally contributed to their sense of belonging to American society. These young folks are the backbone of America, critical to our future.

The rescission of DACA would have done tremendous damage to that future, robbing these young people of fundamental protections to build their lives and forcing them back into a life deep in the shadows of the law. The negative consequences of unauthorized status, including limited access to services and opportunities, fear of deportation and forced family separations, have long-term and tangible developmental effects on their lives as well as on their children.

And we as a nation would have lost the benefit of our investment in these young people. Such a loss could have potentially devastating effects as we lose talented doctors, nurses, teachers, scholars, scientists and students and others who make such a rich contribution to America.

Instead, today’s ruling makes American stronger, continuing needed protections for young people, American in every way except for a piece of paper.

DACA has provided young immigrants with many important opportunities. The UCLA study of childhood arrivals by the UndocuScholars Project found that 85.5 percent of students with DACA reported a positive impact on their education. DACA recipients enjoyed higher rates of working, greater housing and transportation stability, and greater success in accessing both scholarships and internships.  Ninety-four percent of DACA recipients indicated a wish to apply for U.S. citizenship if they were ever eligible. Their participation has important implications for civic engagement with recipients reporting their DACA status has fundamentally contributed to their sense of belonging to American society.  As one participant in the study said, “I feel more American.”

The data reveal a deep vein of longing for citizenship as a marker of belonging and giving back to the only country they truly know. In addition to becoming doctors and nurses, these young people told us they longed to become our teachers, our police and fire personnel, and our business and civic leaders [MS4] . They are the future of our country.

Today’s ruling, while welcome, is precarious. The Trump administration could once again take action to end DACA.  We must act to ensure they don’t.

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco is the Dean of the Wasserman Dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. In August 2020, he will become the Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Boston.  His research has examined mass migration and the lives of immigrants, and the implications for their educational, economic and social success. His declaration to the Courts detailing the benefits of DACA and the negative implications of ending the program can be found below.