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New Survey of Dreamer College Graduates Highlights Importance of DACA on Social Mobility and Workforce Contributions

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For Immediate Release: June 17, 2024

Contacts: Michael Earls at [email protected] or Gisselle Toledo-Molinary at [email protected] 

New Survey of Dreamer College Graduates Highlights Importance of DACA on Social Mobility and Workforce Contributions

New survey report of more than 2,000 Alumni of TheDream.US and Golden Door Scholars programs underscores significance of education and work authorization, along with growing toll and anxieties over challenges to DACA

Washington, DC – TheDream.US and Golden Door Scholars, two organizations providing college scholarships and career supports to undocumented students, today released a new survey report of more than 2,000 Alumni graduates that demonstrates the significance of a college degree and work authorization on the social mobility of Dreamers. 

Released during the anniversary week of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program announcement and filled with both Alumni stories and detailed statistics, the new report underscores why policies such as DACA, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and other opportunities for Dreamers both empower individual lives and strengthen the broader American workforce. Among the key findings: 

  • Deep roots in the U.S. The median age of the more than 2,000 respondents was 26 and their median age of arrival to the U.S. was just four years old – meaning the typical respondent has lived in the U.S. for the vast majority of their lives.
  • Workforce contributions and potential in key industries: 91% of Alumni survey respondents are working, with Business, Health and Medicine, and Education the top industries. Approximately 1-in-4 respondents have now been in the workforce for five or more years and half of the respondents have some form of managerial role. Among the Fortune 500 companies that are employing these Alumni include Accenture, American Airlines, Apple, Asurion, AT&T, Bank of America, Charles Schwab, Cigna Healthcare, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, FedEx, Google, JP Morgan, KPMG LLP, Labcorp, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Microsoft, Moderna, Northwell Health, PwC, ScribeAmerica, State Farm, Summit Health, Target, Walmart, and Wells Fargo.
  • Strong indicators of social mobility: Among respondents, 66% are the first in their family to attend college. And a whopping 63% are out-earning their parents’ combined incomes, with 26% reporting themselves as the primary providers for their family. 
  • Signs of the growing toll of challenges to DACA: Since a similar 2022 Alumni Survey report, the percentage of fully undocumented Alumni without any form of work authorization has almost tripled, growing from 3% to 8% of the respondents. Unsurprisingly, those without work authorization were less likely to be earning an income – with 31% of those without work authorization seeking employment compared to 7% of those with work authorization. Although this group remains a relatively small portion of the larger Alumni population, it is a rapidly growing one. For example, among the cohort of the youngest TheDream.US Scholars, who recently concluded their first year as Scholars, three-in-four were fully undocumented. 
  • Increasing anxiety over their futures and their immigration status: 96% of Alumni respondents reported feeling some level of anxiety about their immigration status in the past year and 59% reported losing work authorization as their biggest concern in achieving their professional goals.

According to Gaby Pacheco, President & CEO of TheDream.US, “Despite the demonstrated successes of DACA and other opportunities for Dreamers in unleashing their potential, many of our Alumni are anxious about their futures or unable to put their degrees to work. Undoubtedly, many of their employers share in this anxiety, knowing that the future of valued employees’ work authorization remains uncertain. As we celebrate twelve years of DACA this week, that commemoration and these findings should remind all of us why advocating for federal and state policy changes for Dreamers is both a moral and economic imperative.”

According to Lisa Shasky, CEO of Golden Door Scholars, “The survey report illustrates a critical truth: when given the opportunity, Dreamers not only succeed—they excel. At Golden Door Scholars, we are committed to turning the dreams of undocumented students into tangible successes. As we observe the profound impact a college degree has on the social mobility of our Alumni, we are reminded of the ongoing need to advocate for and support these remarkable young individuals. It’s clear that supporting Dreamers is not just a matter of justice; it’s a smart investment in our collective future.”

Additionally, see below for a round-up of some of the DACA Anniversary week activities involving Scholars and Alumni from TheDream.US and/or Golden Door Scholars.

  • Check out the profiles and stories of TheDream.US Scholars and Alumni who were in Washington, DC for the DACA Anniversary Week via TheDream.US social channels on Instagram and Facebook.
  • Civil Rights, Education and Immigration Panel Discussion at National Press Club: On Monday June 10, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, TheDream.US, and Immigration Hub held a panel discussion focusing on the fundamental role the right to education has played across civil rights movements and the impact of approaching immigration advocacy with a cross-cultural lens, elevating the importance of advocating for laws that ensure an accurate and inclusive education for all members of American society.  Watch a recorded version of discussion HERE
  • Monday, June 10th through Thursday, June 13th: Bipartisan Congressional Advocacy Days: Throughout the week, DACA recipients, educators, and other leaders met with bipartisan Members of Congress and their staff to discuss the critical need for a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers and DACA recipients. The advocacy meetings engaged Members of Congress who have expressed an interest in reaching a bipartisan solution for Dreamers.
  • Late May National Immigration Forum event, “Advancing the American Dream: How We Can Work Together on a Solution for Dreamers,” featuring panelists Dr. Dan Boone, President, Trevecca Nazarene University; Jack Chen, Associate General Counsel for U.S. Immigration, Microsoft; and Gaby Pacheco, President and CEO, TheDream.US, along with moderator Bri Stensrud, Director of Women of Welcome. Recording link HERE.

About TheDream.US

TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college and career success program for undocumented immigrant students, having provided more than 10,000 college scholarships to Dreamers attending over 80 partner colleges in 21 states and Washington, DC. We believe everyone, regardless of where they were born, should have equitable access to a college education, a meaningful career, and opportunities to contribute to the communities they call home. For more information on TheDream.US, visit www.thedream.us 

About Golden Door Scholars

Golden Door Scholars exists to permanently disrupt intergenerational poverty and increase diversity in the workforce by setting undocumented students up for high-earning, sustainable careers in STEM, Nursing, and Business. We believe everyone deserves the opportunity for higher education and economic mobility. Immigration status shouldn’t determine opportunity. Tenacity and hard work should. With the Golden Door Scholarship, undocumented students invest in their education and define their futures. https://www.goldendoorscholars.org/ 

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