Rolling back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could leave nearly 200,000 children without their parents, according to multiple studies and experts. While it’s possible an exception could be made for undocumented immigrants with children who are citizens, the Trump administration has made it clear to those formerly protected to start making their travel arrangements. For many parents, this could include custodial arrangements as well.
“The data shows that 25.7 percent of DACA recipients have at least one U.S. citizen child,” Tom Wong, co-author of the most recent research out of the University of California at San Diego, told The Daily Beast. “If extrapolated to the total population of DACA recipients, this suggests that at least 200,000 U.S. citizen children live in the U.S. currently who have a DACA recipient for a parent.
The study, conducted in partnership with the Center for American Progress, surveyed 3,063 DACA recipients from August 1, 2017, to August 20, 2017. Overall, more than a quarter of those said they had at least one child who is an American citizen. Brian Root, a data analyst for Human Rights Watch who was not involved in the study, told The Daily Beast Wong’s study was a reliable indicator of the DACA population.
“It’s as good as you can do with this population,” he said, noting that another 2015 study turned up similar findings. Specifically, United We Dream found that 24.5 percent of DACA respondents has citizen children—or about 200,000 potentially orphaned kids.
Research additionally shows that children with deported parents are more likely to develop mental health problems. There’s no telling what risks are posed just from the childhood stress of potential parental deportation. Unfortunately for many parents like Angelica Villalobos in Oklahoma City, this is about to play out with her four young daughters. Her oldest, a 17-year-old, has already been informed that she may have to become the legal guardian to her three siblings.
“I tell them it will be OK,” she told The Daily Beast, “even though I don’t know if it will be OK.”