Ambiguity from the Trump administration about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program puts the current lives of many immigrant youth and young adults in a state of limbo — nearly 1 million people could face the loss of legal protection or even deportation. In a recent piece for The Globe Post, Stephanie Canizales outlines what the abolishment of DACA could mean for both the current DACA-recipients, or “Dreamers,” and others who may have qualified for the program in the future.
Beginning in 2012, Canizales conducted in-depth research with hundreds of now long-settled undocumented young adults. These young adults, now aged 18 to 31, arrived as unaccompanied minors to the United States between the ages of 11 and 17. Her research shows that upon arrival, and without parental support, many of these youth entered the workforce immediately, taking jobs in industries marred by deplorable working conditions and wages. These jobs were often extremely detrimental to mental and physical health, and forced many youth to work exceptionally long hours for menial pay.
Work permits under DACA appear to have helped alleviate these exploitative workplace conditions, and many Dreamers are now enrolled in college to further their careers. Canizales’ work demonstrates that the loss of DACA could also negatively impact young adults at work even if they aren’t deported. She concludes,
“Removing legal protections for immigrant youth and young-adult workers risks further increasing the exploitation of immigrants in the workplace, as well as poverty and marginality in their communities.”