The Kids of DACA-Protected Immigrants Are All Right - Pacific Standard

The Kids of DACA-Protected Immigrants Are All Right

The children of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are often overlooked in the policy debates surrounding immigration. But a new study shows programs like DACA protect their mental health.
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Dozens of immigration advocates attend a rally outside of Trump Tower on August 15th, 2017, in New York City.

Dozens of immigration advocates attend a rally outside of Trump Tower on August 15th, 2017, in New York City.

As President Donald Trump waffles on whether or not to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a new study finds that the program has benefited their children—most of whom are American citizens—as well.

Nearly 800,000 people have participated in the DACA program—which shields undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children from deportation—since it launched in 2012. And the benefits for DACA participants can trickle down to those around them: The children of mothers who were protected by DACA were diagnosed with adjustment and anxiety disorders half as often as the children of undocumented mothers who were ineligible for the program, according to results published today in Science. The findings have huge implications for the roughly four million children who have been born to undocumented immigrants in the U.S.—all citizens by birth.

"Our results imply that expanding deferred action to the millions of unauthorized immigrant parents who do not meet the current DACA eligibility criteria could further promote the health and well-being of this next generation of American citizens," the authors write.

The fate of the program isn't just in Trump's hands. Ten attorneys general from conservative states are threatening to sue the federal government if the president doesn't end the program by September 5th. Going to bat for the program would mean forcing the U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions—himself an outspoken critic of DACA—to defend it in court.

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