President’s Executive Action Would Lift 40,000 Children Out Of Poverty, Study Finds

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apples picked by immigrant hands

CREDIT: ThinkProgress/ Esther Y. Lee

More than 40,000 children in California could be lifted above the poverty line if the president’s executive action on immigration relief goes into effect, a new University of Southern California study released last week found.

Last month, a Texas judge temporarily halted the president’s executive action known as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (also known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability), or DAPA, a program that would provide deportation relief and work authorization to undocumented parents of legal permanent residents or U.S. citizen children. By some estimates, DAPA could benefit upwards of 4.1 million people. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which would handle the ruling, is likely going to allow the administration to go ahead with the executive actions, though a multi-state lawsuit attacking the actions could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to the study, which exclusively focused on the 1.2 million DAPA-eligible immigrants in California, their earnings would percolate down to their households, which likely includes documented immigrants and the U.S.-born. A White House study found that allowing DAPA recipients to work would boost their individual wages by six to ten percent, while a Center for American Progress study found that moving workers from the informal to formal labor market would see an 8.5 percent increase in earnings.

“With more income in the household due to DAPA implementation, over 40,000 children could be lifted above the official poverty line,” the study authors found. “We also know that one of the single largest factors impacting student learning and future performance is parent’s socioeconomic status; for that reason, DAPA seems like the sort of anti-poverty and pro-child measure that should rally politicians from across the political spectrum.”

Children are especially impacted by the uncertainty and strain that the threat of deportation and isolation puts on undocumented parents. Between 2010 and 2012, a record-breaking 205,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported, leaving thousands of those children in foster care at the cost of about $26,000 per child. On the flip side, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that 300,000 U.S.-born children have moved from the United States to Mexico since 2005 because one or both of their parents were deported. The average undocumented family’s income hovers around $35,000 so adults made into single parents because of their spouse or partner’s deportation cannot always make ends meet on just one income.