AFCS Statement on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

The Forum for Community Solutions (AFCS), a policy program at the Aspen Institute, supports equitable, community-based solutions to pressing social issues. For the past five years, we have specifically supported building a movement for opportunity youth – young adults not connected to education or the workforce.

We believe in the right of all young people in the United States to access the education and careers that are meaningful to them and align with their vision for themselves, their families and their communities. We believe that their success in this endeavor is a benefit to our entire country. Because of the hard work in communities around the United States, the most recent data show that the number of opportunity youth are starting to decline – reduced by 600,000 youth in recent years down to 4.9 million nationally.

At the same time, 4.9 million opportunity youth is still far too many disconnected youth. The recent executive order to repeal DACA does not help. In fact, in a single pen stroke, it would roll back all the gains that have been made over the past several years. These gains include: of the 800,000 DACA recipients, 97% are in school or working; 685,000 have jobs; and 240,000 are enrolled in college.

Ending DACA will remove these young people from the workforce, and is likely to jeopardize college enrollment and future opportunities because even if they can finish college, they would not be eligible to work in the United States. Ultimately, without DACA’s protections, all of these young people would be subject to deportation – to countries that many of them have no memories of and have not lived in for a decade or more.

Without DACA protection, those young people who do stay in the United States (because of family responsibilities or no home to go to outside the United States) would be forced to work in a shadow economy, below their skill levels, and subject to predatory employment practices. AFCS believes that such a future would not only be deeply immoral, but harmful for all residents and citizens of the United States. We should be welcoming these 800,000 hard-working, educationally successful young people into our communities with open arms – not persecuting them.

Our nation, and our communities, to paraphrase john a. powell, should be radically inclusive spaces of belonging. AFCS will stand with our partners and colleagues to create such a future – for DACA Dreamers, and for all young people in the United States.