The Move on Women Intensifies: How DACA is Directed Toward Women and Children

Alexa DeJesusNews, Uncategorized


Authored by Dr. Carmen E. Schaye, NWPC Vice President of Diversity

The current Presidential administration recently announced that it would end two programs that directly affect the lives, livelihood and status of undocumented youth in this country. Furthermore, the administration has given Congress six months to create measures to address the legal status of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants leaving many of them in a state of uncertainty. Through this action, the Trump legislation further fulfills the President’s campaign promise to change an immigrant friendly country with a reversal of the Obama administration’s protection of young immigrants.

In 2001 the Dream Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) was introduced with the purpose of giving undocumented children of immigrants, “Dreamers” (a name given to this population), a path to citizenship. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is an acronym for a piece of legislation established by Barack Obama (2012) that provides extended asylum for 800,000 children of undocumented parents who were brought to the United States at younger than 16 and have lived in the U.S. continuously since 2007. DACA program provisions allow recipients to defer deportation, attend school, receive two-year work permits, receive a college education, scholarships and other benefits based on eligibility determined by extensive background and security checks and their qualification as productive citizens. Approximately 1.3 million were eligible to enroll in DACA and to date approximately 800,000 have applied.

In 1965 the Hart Cellars Act (H.R. 2580; Pub.L. 89–236, 79 Stat. 911) broke away from the previous Emergency Quota Act of 1921 which restricted immigration from Asia, South East Asia and Africa. Hart Cellars changed the way quotas were allocated ending the National Origins Formula making provisions for reuniting immigrant families and attracting skilled labor to the United States. The formulas put in place by the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 ensured that immigration to the United States was primarily reserved for European immigrants. In practice, it favored immigration of Northern and Western Europeans and limited and or restricted immigration to Southern and Eastern Europeans. This restricted the culture and complexion of the United States by promoting the dominance of certain European stock up until the 1950’s. The passage of the Hart Cellars Act predicted that (Hart Cellars) would have little change on the ethnic makeup of the United States. In 1965 immigrants accounted for about 5% of the foreign born population but in 2015 immigrants account for 14% of the American population (Pew Research: Hispanic Trends Project 2015. Moreover, there has been a dramatic change in the foreign born population because foreign born immigrants are mostly from ethnic and racial groups that were formerly restricted in the 1921 National Origins Formula as “Pew Research analysis shows that without any post-1965 immigration, the nation’s racial and ethnic composition would be very different today: 75% white, 14% Black, 8% Hispanic and less than 1% Asian.”

Although most Americans think that DACA applicants are Mexican or Central American, most Americans are not aware of the ethnic and racial demographics of DACA applicants. Applicants represent a variety of different countries with the highest acceptance being from African countries, the Caribbean, East and Southeast Asia and Latinos from countries in South and Central America. What most “Dreamers” and DACA recipients do have in common with each other is that they are predominantly people of color. (Eugene Scott, ‘Dreamers’ aren’t just coming from Latin America, WASH. POST (Sept. 7, 2017),

The majority of DACA recipients are women and two thirds are aged 25 years or younger. Women are the majority (53%) of active DACA recipients, while 47% of them are men, (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). The average age of “Dreamers” enrolled in DACA is 24 years old. The breakdown of DACA recipients is 37% are ages 21-25, 29% are ages 16-20, 24% are ages 26-30, 11% are ages 31-36. (No DACA recipients are older than 36 because the program required applicants to have entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday and have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. (Key Facts About Unauthorized Immigrants Enrolled in DACA (Sept .25, 2017):
Pew Research:

Children of DACA applicants are at risk with all women being of childbearing age. There are approximately 200K American children (U.S. born) who are born to DACA applicants. If DACA mothers are deported, U.S. born children may have to stay in foster care or with legal guardians or leave the country with their parents. This may create additional financial burden on the Social Service system and huge deportation costs. According to most recent research, one in four DACA recipients have at least one child that is an American citizen. (Tom Wong , University of California San Diego, United We Dream, The National Immigration Law Center, August 2017). The Trump administration is using women and children as pawns for funding the Border Wall, increase funding for Homeland Security, targeting visa overstays and further marginalizing people and especially women of color.

On October 12, 2017, former US Secretary of Homeland Security (2009 -, 2013) Janet Napolitano (who authored DACA) and President of the University of California and the University of California Board of Regents filed suit in Federal Court (The Regents of the University of California and Janet Napolitano v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Elaine Duke, 2017) against the Department of Homeland Security to overturn the recession of this program . “The Trump administration’s plan to end the program is illegal, unconstitutional, and anathema to our national ethos. It also defies common sense. I believed in the importance of DACA five years ago, and I will fight for it now” (Think (October 2017) : . The United States is founded by immigrants. The first Immigrants came from England on the Mayflower and settled in this country. According to Napolitano: “Dreamers are in every sense but one as American as those whose relatives arrived on the Mayflower”.