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Immigration Law

DACA Boosts Immigrants' Earning Power, Survey Finds - Law360

Law360, July 10, 2015 - "A 3-year-old immigration program that grants work permits and defers deportation actions for hundreds of thousands of young people in the country illegally has been a boon to the pockets and educational aspirations of its participants, according to the results of a survey released Friday.

After applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, participants have seen their wages increase by an average of 45 percent, while 92 percent of those in school report pursuing opportunities they previously could not, according to the survey, which was commissioned by the National Immigration Law Center and the Center for American Progress.

The survey, with a sample size of 546 respondents, was conducted online in June using a peer-to-peer sampling strategy to identify DACA participants and advertisements on social media sites such as Facebook to create a wider respondent base, according to a release by the Center for American Progress. It was conducted by the two organizations and by Tom Wong, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego.

The survey found that 89 percent of participants got their driver’s licenses after applying for DACA, and 21 percent bought a car afterward. In Texas, one of 26 states that is currently challenging the law, the survey data shows that 33 percent of the state’s respondents bought a car, at an average cost of $10,346. The survey goes on to calculate the average state tax payment to be $647 per car, based on a 6.25 percent tax rate.

“Although one should take caution when extrapolating from a sample to a population, the findings are clear: Texas stands to gain significant amounts of new tax revenue from individuals who gain deferred action, get driver’s licenses, and buy cars,” according to a statement by the center.

The states argue that they have standing to challenge President Barack Obama’s November 2014 executive actions on immigration, including a proposed expansion of DACA, because of the added cost they would face in issuing driver’s licenses to the applicants.

Under the programs, which could affect an estimated 4.4 million people, noncitizens would be able to defer deportation and apply for work permits for three-year periods. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, however, blocked the policies from being implemented when he issued an injunction in February, finding that the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program — geared for certain immigrant parents — should have been subjected to a federal rulemaking process.

The U.S. Department of Justice subsequently appealed the injunction, and later filed its unsuccessful emergency bid to stay the injunction or narrow its scope while the issue worked its way through the appeals process. The federal government subsequently said that it wouldn’t appeal the stay denial to the Supreme Court, and would instead focus on the appeal of the injunction itself."