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81,000 DACA recipients identify as LGBTQ

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LOS ANGELES — There are an estimated 81,000 LGBTQ Dreamers in the U.S., including about 39,000 who have participated in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), according to the Williams Institute.

The LGBTQ think tank stated that most LGBTQ DACA participants live in California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Florida.

In June 2012, then-President Obama’s administration announced the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before the age of 16, and met other requirements, temporary work authorization and protection from deportation for a renewable two-year period.

In Sept. 2017, five years after the program’s creation, the Trump administration rescinded the June 2012 memorandum and announced a winding down of the DACA program. Immediately following the announcement, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ceased to accept new DACA applications. Later, on October 5, 2017, USCIS stopped accepting DACA renewal applications as well. Challenges to the rescinding of DACA resulted in several federal courts ordering USCIS to continue accepting renewals, thus sustaining the program for those already enrolled. In 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to review the lower court decisions. A decision is expected by the end of June 2020.

The Migration Policy Institute has estimated that there are approximately 1,724,000 Dreamers who were eligible to participate in DACA, or would have been eligible if they satisfied the program’s educational requirements (e.g., enrollment in a GED program) and the program had not been terminated.

The Williams Institute estimated that approximately 81,000 of these Dreamers are LGBT.

DACA provides work authorization for a two-year period, thus reducing employment barriers for those who participate in the program. A 2019 study found that DACA participants report, on average, an 86% increase in hourly wages, from under $11 per hour pre-DACA enrollment to over $19 per hour afterward, and many also report getting a job with improved working conditions after enrolling in DACA.10 Enrollment in DACA can also expand educational opportunities. Some states allow DACA participants, but not other undocumented individuals, to enroll in colleges and universities in the state. Some states also allow DACA participants to qualify for in-state tuition and make available state-based financial aid. In 2019, the majority (71.2%) of DACA participants report pursuing educational opportunities that they would not have been able to access without DACA.11 Research suggests comparable benefits for LGBT and non-LGBT DACA participants.

Download the brief here.

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