New Survey of DACA Recipients Finds that Average Hourly Wages Increased by 45 Percent, Among Other Benefits

A nationwide survey conducted by Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego; the National Immigration Law Center, or NILC; and the Center for American Progress, illustrates the impact of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, on employment, wages, education, and more.

immigration naturalization oath

DREAMers and parents take an oath in a mock citizenship ceremony in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 2013. SOURCE:  AP/Alex Brandon

Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)–July 9, 2015.  A new nationwide survey of DACA recipients released today is one of the first to systematically quantify the wage effect of receiving deferred action, with data showing that DACA has increased average hourly wages for recipients by 45 percent. The survey, conducted by Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Center for American Progress, illustrates the economic and educational benefit of the program three years after its implementation.

Key findings of the survey include:

A full 96 percent of respondents are currently employed or in school, showing that DACA has significantly helped recipients participate in the labor force

69 percent of recipients are getting better, higher-paying jobs than they had before they received DACA, with 57 percent of them reporting moving to a job “that better fits [their] education and training” and 54 percent moving to a job with better working conditions

They are buying cars at high rates, with the survey finding that 21 percent of recipients bought their first cars and 89 percent of respondents obtained a driver’s license or state ID for the first time after receiving DACA

92 percent of respondents who are currently in school say that because of DACA, they pursued educational opportunities previously unavailable to them

Given that higher wages translate into more tax revenue and more economic growth, the survey findings suggest that DACA benefits all Americans.

Access the analysis of the survey here.



Tom K. Wong is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. He is also the director of the International Migration Studies Program minor. His research focuses on the politics of immigration, citizenship, and migrant “illegality.” As these issues have far-reaching implications, his work also explores the links between immigration, race and ethnicity, and the politics of identity.

NILC is the primary legal advocacy organization in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. NILC focuses on key issues that affect low-income immigrants’ lives, including access to health care, economic support programs, and education; workers’ rights; and immigration reform and enforcement policies. To advance its mission, NILC uses multiple, integrated strategies: litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. And through trainings, publications, and providing legal counsel and advice, NILC also educates a wide range of audiences about legal and policy matters that affect immigrants.