New Groundbreaking National Survey Highlights Success of DACA, Political Identity and Issue of Immigration Reform to Undocumented Millennials

United We Dream Press Releases

WASHINGTON D.C. – An expansive new survey, In Their Own Words, A National Survey of Undocumented Millennials  (see survey here) was released today to provide fresh insight into the benefits of DACA and the political identity of undocumented millennials.

To listen to a recording of today’s call, click here.

Key takeaways:

  • Less than ⅓ of DACAmented millennials applied for the program without assistance, telling us that continued support for DACA implementation work is critical.
  • 40 percent of DACAmented Dreamers know someone eligible for the program who has yet applied.
  • DACA is working: 70% say they began their first job or moved to a new job upon receiving DACA and 64% say they’re less afraid because of their status and 84% now have a driver’s license.
  • The survey shows that Dreamers are politically independent and expect both parties to deliver further relief on deportations.
  • Most respondents (95%) plan to renew DACA (marriage is the main reason for not renewing)
  • Over half of respondents (52%) “agree” or “strongly agree” that the cost of $465 to renew DACA status would impose a financial hardships on themselves.
  • 50% of those surveyed identified as Democrat, 6% as Republican and 44% as Independent

Access to undocumentedmillennials.com

The survey is being released as over half a million Dreamers await final rules from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service about the renewal process for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) – the only pathway out of the shadows and into the formal economy available to undocumented people today.

Adam Luna, Director of the Own the Dream Campaign at United We Dream said, “It is critical that the voice of Dreamers be heard by policymakers who are weighing their options for improving and expanding the DACA program.  United We Dream and the Own the Dream campaign are known for telling it like it is, which is why we decided to work with noted political scientist Tom Wong to provide this unvarnished look at the views, hopes and anxieties of our communities.  The data show that the two-year, recurring nature of fees for DACA impose a serious hardship, which is why we are advocating for USCIS to change the program to a four-year renewable program, rather than the current two.”

Said Tom Wong,“The data makes clear that DACA is having a profound impact on the lives of undocumented millennials – we see this not only when it comes to economic and other material gains, but also in the fact that so many of our respondents reported feeling a greater sense of belonging in the United States after they received deferred action. It is yet unclear, however, whether the renewal process will stunt any of this positive momentum as we move forward.”

“The data question many of our previously held assumptions about the political preferences of undocumented millennials. Democrats and Republicans alike should pay very close attention to the findings, as they provide a window into who this emerging constituency may support in the future.”

Said David Chung, United We Dream’s National Field Fellow from the Own the Dream Campaign and DACAmented Individual, The Deferred Action program has changed my life and as the poll shows, it is working around the country as well. Everywhere, Dreamers are able to start new lives with less fear and a greater sense of belonging.  As the poll shows, Dreamers need assistance in order to apply for DACA and take full advantage of its benefits and much more needs to be done.”

Said Julieta Garibay, co-founder and Legislative Affairs associate of United We Dream, “The biggest political takeaway from the poll is that Undocumented Minnellians are tuned in and following the immigration debate very closely. These findings also show that political allegiance amongst Dreamers to any one party is NOT set in stone and is greatly impacted by record high deportations under the Obama administration.”

The study was conducted by Professor Tom Wong, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego and sets a new standard of methodological rigor in surveying undocumented individuals.  It is one of the largest surveys ever conducted of the undocumented population with a total of 3,139 respondents, of which 1,472 have been validated to, in fact, be undocumented millennials.  Respondents come from 42 states, and represent 60 different places of birth and approximately two thirds of respondents said that they do not belong to an immigrant rights organization.