Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Paul Clements

Second Advisor

Kelsey Kanthack


On June 15, 2012 the Department of Homeland Security announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order from the President Barack Obama Administration, providing relief for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. when they were children. The move followed decades of litigation and failed actions in Congress, such as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, attempting to address the group, known as DREAMers. DACA itself has also faced numerous challenges concerning its legality and application, the most recent of which have declared the program illegal, resulting in a halt on new applications and uncertainty for current recipients. The program was intended to be temporary while Congress worked on a long-term solution, but ten years later Congress has yet to pass legislation and DREAMers live permanent lives supported by temporary measures.

Relief for childhood arrivals has gained bi-partisan support, as these individuals contribute to the U.S. economy and their communities, taking low priority for removal in the eyes of immigration authorities. Ideas of relief for the group have focused on supporting fulfilling lives through access to education, supported by some instances of in-state tuition, and employment opportunities, supported by work authorization. This article includes a summary of the political history of DACA as well as an analysis of employment and educational attainment rates in eligible individuals, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, demonstrating the program’s successes and shortcomings. From these observations, it is evident that DACA falls short of providing complete support for those productive and beneficial lifestyles it was intended to encourage, especially as recipients are left without a path to a long-term status. In light of these insufficient measures, I argue for numerous improvements to DACA or a potential DREAM Act which would produce better results for more individuals.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Presentation.pdf (452 kB)
Defense Presentation