Defending the Dream: DACA's Repeal Demands a Robust Response from Philanthropy

Thursday, September 14, 2017


On September 5, the Trump administration upended the lives of 800,000 young immigrants, dimming their hopes and dreams, threatening their livelihoods, and putting them at risk of being forcibly separated from their family, friends, and the only home many of them have ever known.

The repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program exacts an enormous human toll, not only on DACAmented immigrants and their families but on countless lives and institutions DACA beneficiaries have touched. DACAmented immigrants are our friends, neighbors, and co-workers; they are students and teachers in our schools and universities; they worship alongside us; and they help strengthen our neighborhoods as community leaders and volunteers. Their skills, talents, and labor have also contributed to our economy. Without DACA, our nation stands to lose $460.3 billion in gross domestic product and $24.6 billion in Medicare and Social Security contributions over the next decade.

DACA’s rescission is the latest in a series of draconian executive actions seeking to curtail both authorized and unauthorized immigration, including the Muslim ban, stepped-up enforcement measures, weakened protections for refugees and asylum seekers, and a proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. These policy measures, compounded by xenophobic vitriol and heightened criminalization of immigrants and other vulnerable communities, have fueled uncertainty and fear among the 43 million foreign-born individuals who call America home.

Launched in 2012, DACA affirmed our core values as a nation and brought the American Dream within reach for DACAmented immigrants. By every measure, this policy was a resounding success, allowing beneficiaries to earn a better living, pursue further education, purchase cars and homes, and start new businesses. Perhaps most importantly, it provided a greater sense of safety and security, affirming for these newcomers that they belong.

Philanthropy played an important role in ensuring DACA’s success. Through the Delivering on the Dream initiative, GCIR engaged more than 100 foundations nationally and in 15 states that invested and leveraged over $42 million to provide eligible immigrants with access to this life-changing benefit. Local, state, and national funders delivered on DACA’s promise through collaboration and coordination, and these strategies can be deployed again to meet new challenges.

Building on Delivering on the Dream, GCIR stands ready to advance a robust response in partnership with our member foundations and the broader philanthropic community. We call on philanthropy to address immediate needs and support the development of long-term policy solutions. We urge you to stand up as agents of change and assert your public voice to push back against anti-immigrant forces and their divisive rhetoric. Your courage, compassion, and leadership are needed now more than ever.



PhotoAntonio R. Villaraigosa / Creative Commons