Undocumented Status and Immigrant Families: An Interdisciplinary Impact Evaluation of Deferred Action

Over 4.5 million U.S.-born citizen children have at least one undocumented immigrant parent. In California alone, 13 percent of K–12 grade students have an undocumented parent. Many undocumented parents struggle in low-skill, low-wage jobs with onerous working conditions. They are likely to have low levels of educational attainment, high poverty rates, and limited access to services, as well as fear of deportation and familial separation—all of which can undermine their children’s wellbeing.

President Obama's executive action, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), presents a unique opportunity for researchers to explore whether providing undocumented immigrants with temporary legal status can improve outcomes for their families. Jens Hainmueller and Tomás Jiménez, with a team of investigators affiliated with the Stanford Immigration Policy Lab, propose to use a regression discontinuity design, complemented by in-depth qualitative interviews, to assess the causal impact of temporary legal regularization (DACA) on family outcomes.

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