Heterogeneous Effects of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Undocumented College Students’ Educational Outcomes

Keitaro Okura , Yale University
Amy Hsin, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)
Sofya Aptekar, Princeton University

DACA is a U.S. immigration program enacted in August 2012, offering eligible undocumented youth renewable work permits. Drawing on unique administrative dataset on the population of undocumented students attending the City University of New York (CUNY), we examine the effects of DACA on college GPA and dropout rates. We find that DACA’s effects on educational outcomes are heterogeneous: It has a negative effect on undocumented students who, prior to the policy, were academically high performing and taking on a heavy course-load, while it had no significant impact on low academic performers and those maintaining a light course-load. We argue that these heterogeneous effects can be explained by the employment status of undocumented students before DACA, which predicts both their prior academic engagement and their post-DACA educational outcomes. More broadly, our results suggest that DACA does not encourage undocumented youth to fully invest in their education because of the political uncertainty over the program’s future.

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 Presented in Session 2. Children & Youth