skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on July 30, 2024

Title: DACA legal services: One federal policy, different local implementation approaches

In the United States, the absence of federal funding and coordination for immigration legal services often means that local resources determine immigrants' access to justice. Many of these resources go toward supporting immigrants caught in the detention and deportation system. Yet local support is also critical for implementing federal benefits programs such as the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In this article, we draw on 146 interviews with representatives of legal services providers and their nonprofit collaborators in three immigrant‐dense metropolitan areas—the Greater Houston Area, the New York City Metro Area, and the San Francisco Bay Area—to analyze the distinct, place‐specific service and collaboration models that have emerged over the last decade to meet demand for DACA implementation support. Specifically, we examine how local context shapes the types of actors that immigrants can turn to for immigration legal services, and how they have coordinated on the ground in distinct ways during a time of increasing uncertainty.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Law & Policy
Medium: X Size: p. 434-458
["p. 434-458"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Over the past three decades, a central new challenge confronting millions of children of immigrants has emerged: growing up in a mixed‐status family in which at least one member lacks legal authorization to live and work in the United States. A body of recent research argues that unauthorized immigrant status is thefundamentaldeterminant of integration for unauthorized immigrants, with intergenerational consequences for their U.S.‐born children. We discuss the immigration and other policies that create the particular social context within which unauthorized immigration status becomes so detrimental for integration. Specifically, we focus on federal and state policies that undermine the very factors thought to protect children and support the integration of new generations of Americans: families and social networks, economic resources and opportunities, and health. We conclude with recommendations for future research.

    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Undocumented immigration status is a structural barrier to socioeconomic mobility. The regularization of legal status may therefore promote the socioeconomic mobility of formerly undocumented immigrants. The 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provided protection against deportation and access to work authorization for eligible undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. While studies using cross-sectional data find that DACA led to improved socioeconomic status, no studies have examined the socioeconomic status of DACA recipients over time and few have disaggregated among groups of DACA recipients. Drawing from one of the only longitudinal studies of DACA recipients, we use growth curve models to estimate individuals’ wage trajectories from the year prior to DACA receipt up to 77 months post-DACA receipt among Latino/a DACA participants in California. In this sample, DACA is associated with improved earnings trajectories for recipients, compared with nonrecipients. Among DACA recipients, there is variation in earnings growth by stage of the life course, as measured by age and educational attainment. Notably, DACA tenure appears to be particularly beneficial for individuals who attain DACA at earlier ages and who earn college degrees. This study contributes to our understanding of the role of immigration laws and policies in structuring immigrant integration and socioeconomic mobility in the United States. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Former President Trump’s election and subsequent anti-immigrant policy initiatives brought an unprecedented sense of uncertainty for undocumented immigrants. This is particularly true for those who had experienced expanding opportunities through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action signed by former President Obama in 2012. We use in-depth interviews with undocumented young adults to explore how the 2016 presidential election and 2017 executive action that rescinded DACA evoked emotions of anticipatory loss—including sadness and grief—and ontological insecurity—including anxiety and uncertainty. We adopt an interpretive and social constructionist approach to explore these emotions and their implications, demonstrating how even the threat of policy change impacts immigrant young adults’ societal incorporation. We illustrate how DACA recipients conceptualized loss and how these experiences manifested in educational attainment, labor market incorporation, feelings of belonging, and civic participation. Our study provides an innovative contribution to interpret in real-time the incorporation trajectories through the emotions of living with precarious legal status.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Existing scholarship finds that having an attorney in immigration legal proceedings increases the chances of a favorable outcome. This work, however, often acknowledges that the representation effect is underexplained: selection may explain outcomes, and variation among attorneys is difficult to assess. Through 103 interviews with attorneys who practice immigration law in three organizational environments (nonprofit legal services, private firms, and corporate law firm pro bono programs) in two East Coast areas, this paper argues that attorneys' sorting of clients between different types of legal organizations helps explain the representation effect. Attorneys define what type of case is a “good fit” for their representation, selecting cases they think they can help increase the probability of a favorable outcome. However, what they define as a “good fit” varies by attorneys' practice environments, and centers not only on the facts or characteristics of a client and their case, but also attorneys' organizational constraints. By documenting the central role of practice environment variation and its organizational constraints on attorneys' case selection, this paper helps explain the representation effect and its implications for increasing vulnerable immigrants' access to legal representation in the United States.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Restrictive US immigration laws and law enforcement undermine immigrant health by generating fear and stress, disrupting families and communities, and eroding social and economic wellbeing. The inequality and stress created by immigration law and law enforcement may also generate disparities in health among immigrants with different legal statuses. However, existing research does not find consistent evidence of immigrant legal status disparities in health, possibly because it does not disaggregate immigrants by generation, defined by age at migration. Immigration and life course theory suggest that the health consequences of non-citizen status may be greater among 1.5-generation immigrants, who grew up in the same society that denies them formal membership, than among the 1st generation, who immigrated as adolescents or adults. In this study, we examine whether there are legal status disparities in health within and between the 1st generation and the 1.5 generation of 23,288 Latinx immigrant adults interviewed in the 2005–2017 waves of the California Health Interview Survey. We find evidence of legal status disparities in heart disease within the 1st generation and for high blood pressure and diabetes within the 1.5 generation. Non-citizens have higher rates of poor self-rated health and distress within both generations. Socioeconomic disadvantage and limited access to care largely account for the worse health of legally disadvantaged 1st- and 1.5-generation Latinx adults in California.

    more » « less