Today, on its ninth anniversary, The Children’s Partnership celebrates the opportunities provided by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while calling on Congress to further protect the well-being of immigrant children, youth and young adults through a clear path to citizenship.
California is home to more immigrants than any state in the nation, and nearly 200,000 Californians benefit from DACA – roughly a third of program participants nationwide. DACA recipients are youth leaders; parents who provide for the stability, health and well-being of their children; teachers who educate our future generation; health care professionals who deliver our babies and tend to our sick; and so much more.
Our state is also home to nearly 4 million children who live with at least one immigrant parent – roughly half of all our state’s children. With nearly one in four DACA recipients being parents, the security of the DACA program has enabled children to directly benefit from having parents with higher levels of education and better-quality jobs. Better-educated parents have more resources to support their children’s development, which benefits children’s health, academic achievement, and employment in the long run.
However, the fact remains that on this ninth anniversary of DACA’s existence, Congress has yet to establish a clear path to citizenship for undocumented families. The consequences of failing to provide permanent solutions for these immigrant populations threaten the health and well-being of millions of children in California and across the United States. More than half-a-million U.S. citizen children have at least one parent who is a DACA recipient or lives with a family member who is a TPS holder. Parental deportation, and the threat of deportation, damages a child’s mental health and healthy development, puts children at high risk of economic instability, and destroys a child’s family structure.
We call on Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of Dreamers, TPS holders, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients, giving immigrant children and children of immigrants family unity and stability to dream and plan for the future. We join our partners at The Children Thrive Action Network and urge that the bill be amended to further protect children by providing a pathway to citizenship for children who are too young to meet the bill’s work and education requirements, as well as providing explicit protection from deportation for these children. The bill should not deny a pathway to citizenship for youth who have had contact with the juvenile justice system or who were allegedly or actually involved in gang activity. Youth do not think like adults and should not be treated like them; Congress should not impose lifelong consequences for decisions they make while their brains are still developing.
We must support comprehensive federal immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship in order to keep families together. DACA has always been a temporary solution. The well-being of DACA youth, DACA parents and every member of our immigrant families is essential to the overall well-being of our children and our collective future. We urge Congress to act boldly and protect immigrant families and their children.
For those in California who are interested in learning more about their immigration options, click here.