The question of whether the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program continues past March 2018 is of concern not only for those who are program participants, but also employers across this state and nation. In a presentation from Viridiana Carrizales, Managing Director, DACA at Teach for America and Co-Founder of ImmSchools, members of the education and workforce development committee learned about the economic impact of DACA, the number of employees in the region who are DACA participants, and why it is important to work on a bi-partisan solution for these individuals.
In June 2012, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and met certain guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. Under DACA these individuals are also allowed to have work permits in the U.S. However, deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time and does not provide a pathway to citizenship. In Fall of 2017, President Trump rescinded this program and has authorized its phase out by March 2018 forcing congressional leaders to work on immigration reform that will extend this program or provide a pathway to citizenship for these individuals.
In the U.S. there are approximately 800,000 individuals who are DACA program participants. Of these 800,000 individuals the majority are working with nearly 87% in the workforce and 46% enrolled in some type of post-secondary education program. Further, of those in the workforce, 21% are in the health services and education sector, 11% in non-profits and another 6% who have started their own business. In fact, more than 20,000 of the reported number of DACA participants are teachers, primarily bilingual teachers forcing school districts to examine closely a potentially significant workforce shortage in less than 4 months.
Texas has more than 124,000 individuals who are part of DACA and almost 9,000 of those individuals reside in San Antonio. The majority (7,000) of those individuals are between the ages of 15 and 26, and 5,000 are currently employed in the San Antonio area. In the event that DACA is not extended or part of an immigration plan, the US GDP could suffer a projected $433 billion hit over the next 10 years.
During the presentation, Carrizales also explained some of the employer and employee rights under DACA. As an example, because DACA is a confidential status and can’t be inquired on by the employer, employers should not ask to see an employee’s Employment Authorization Document or any other employment eligibility verification once the I-9 or E-Verify is completed. Also provided were some best practices for employers, including knowing your company’s rights under DACA, avoiding asking about an employee’s immigration status, and looking into what kind of record keeping you maintain for all employees of your organization.
For more information on DACA and ImmSchools please email Viridiana Carrizales.