Dreamers live in every US state and don’t just come from Mexico

Protests are already underway.
Protests are already underway.
Image: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
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US president Donald Trump’s administration has just announced it will repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program instituted by his predecessor, Barack Obama. The program prevents deportation of so-called “Dreamers,” people who were brought to the US illegally as children and have since built lives there, often attending American high schools and joining the military.

They have been dubbed “Dreamers” after the proposed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM), which Obama could not get through Congress. Federal data offer a look at who they are, and where they come from.

According to the latest figures, nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants have been granted a DACA deferral. In addition to preventing deportation, a successful DACA application makes a recipient eligible for a permit to work legally.

Mexico accounts for the vast majority of these 800,000 recipients. It is the country of origin for more than 618,000—over 20 times more than the next biggest contributor, El Salvador.

That still leaves close to 200,000 non-Mexicans, and they come from all over the world. The sixth-largest contributing country of origin is South Korea; India and Poland are also among the top countries.

DACA recipients also live in every state in the country. They are mostly concentrated in California and Texas, which together are home to about 350,000 of the 800,000. And even though those two states have large overall populations, Dreamers there represent the largest percentages of any state populations—0.57% in California and 0.45% in Texas. Vermont has the lowest absolute number of DACA recipients, with just 42.

The chart above might be a good indication of where opposition to Trump’s DACA repeal will be strongest. Protests have already broken out across the country—just hours after the Trump administration’s decision—and more are sure to come.

It’s not clear what Trump plans to do in the absence of DACA, and what will happen to that 0.6% of California’s population. Trump said he thinks the “Dreamers are terrific” when asked by reporters whether DACA recipients should be worried. But if he fails to help them, it will fall on Congress to keep the program alive.