Uncertainty about DACA May Undermine its Positive Impact on Health for Recipients and their Children


Undocumented immigrants and their children have worse self-reported health than documented immigrants and U.S. citizens. Evidence suggests that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which granted some rights to undocumented immigrants who arrived as children, improved the wellbeing of recipients and their children in the first three years after the program’s introduction. However, DACA is subject to executive discretion, and the U.S. presidential campaign that began in 2015 introduced substantial uncertainty regarding the program’s future. We examine whether DACA’s health benefits persisted beyond 2015 using the 2007-2017 waves of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and dynamic treatment effects models. Our results show that self-reported health improved for Latina/o DACA-eligible immigrants and their children from 2012-2015 but worsened after 2015. Our results suggest that the political climate of the 2016 presidential election may have underscored the politically contingent nature of the DACA program and eroded the program’s health benefits for eligible immigrants and their children.

Health Affairs
Kelsey D. Meagher
Kelsey D. Meagher
Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Davis