The Trump administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, in March 2018, throwing the lives of more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children into limbo. Known as Dreamers, they’ve enjoyed protection from deportation and the freedom to study and work under a program started by former President Barack Obama in 2012.
Now, all that could change. While there’s been talk of Congress finally passing the DREAM Act, which would offer Dreamers much of the same protections as DACA, there’s no guarantee the law will pass. If it doesn’t and the DACA program does end in 2018, hundreds of thousands of people could end up going back to countries they have little memory of and haven’t lived in for years.
Where would the Dreamers go? The majority would have to go to Mexico, the original home of 78% of DACA recipients. But thousands are from other countries around the world, mostly in Central and South America, but also Asia and Europe. (About 1,700 DACA recipients are from Poland.)
Most DACA recipients come from these 15 countries.
- Number of Dreamers: 3,099
Since 2012, 787,580 DACA applications have been approved, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Just over 3,000 of them are originally from Venezuela. If deported, they’ll end up back in a deeply troubled country suffering from a severe economic crisis, food shortages, and violent protests against the current government.
14. Dominican Republic
- Number of Dreamers: 3,115
Roughly 3,100 Dreamers are originally from the Dominican Republic. Fewer than half of DACA-eligible dreamers from the country have applied for the program, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute.
- Number of Dreamers: 3,182
There are about 3,200 Indian Dreamers in the U.S. That’s just a quarter of all undocumented Indian immigrants who might have been eligible for the program, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Those who haven’t yet applied have missed their chance. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is no longer accepting new DACA applications. However, anyone whose DACA status will expire before March 2018 can renew if they file a request before Oct. 5, 2017.
- Number of Dreamers: 3,435
The government has approved 3,435 applications from Dreamers from Jamaica since 2012. Overall, immigrants from Jamaica and other Caribbean countries make up 2% of all DACA-eligible individuals, according to the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. And their applications were less likely to be approved than those of people from other countries.
- Number of Dreamers: 4,655
About 4,600 Filipino Dreamers have had their DACA applications approved — less than a third of the total eligible population, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The government of the Philippines has said it will do what it can to help the thousands of people who might be deported to that country if they lose their DACA status.
- Number of Dreamers: 4,774
Roughly 4,700 people from Argentina have applied for and received DACA. An Argentinian Dreamer, Daniela Vargas, was arrested in March 2017 after speaking out about immigration rights. She was later released.
- Number of Dreamers: 6,591
About 6,500 people from Colombia who were brought to the U.S. before they were 16 have DACA. According to the Migration Policy Institute, 38% of undocumented immigrants from Colombia immediately eligible for DACA have applied under the program.
- Number of Dreamers: 6,696
Nearly 6,700 Ecuadorian immigrants are currently safe from deportation because of DACA, including Paul Yumbla, a middle-school teacher in Denver. He’s one of a number of DACA recipients who have been hired by Denver Public Schools, which was looking for bilingual teachers to connect with an increasingly diverse student body, Vox reported. Revoking DACA would be “catastrophic” for the city’s schools, the district superintendent said.
7. South Korea
- Number of Dreamers: 7,250
The government has approved DACA application for 7,250 immigrants from South Korea. Overall, about 20% of DACA recipients are from Asia, with the majority from South Korea. Asians are the fastest-growing group of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center. South Koreans and other Asian groups also have some of the lowest DACA application rates (only 16% of eligible Koreans have applied) due to language barriers and stigma related to their undocumented status, according to the Center for American Progress.
- Number of Dreamers: 7,361
Just over 7,300 Dreamers are from Brazil. Nearly three-quarters of eligible immigrants from Brazil have applied for DACA, according to the Migration Policy Institute, one of the highest shares of any country.
- Number of Dreamers: 9,066
About 9,000 Dreamers are from Peru, out of a total of 17,000 eligible people. If they and other DACA recipients are deported, the U.S. economy could take a $280 billion hit over the next 10 years, according to a report from the Cato Institute. In addition, the federal government would lose an additional $60 billion.
- Number of Dreamers: 18,262
Two percent of DACA recipients, or 18,262 people, are originally from Honduras. Close to 80% of immediately eligible people have already applied for DACA, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Officials in Honduras have said Dreamers sent back to the country could face a rough future and might be targets of violence from gangs and drug traffickers. “Their lives will be much more difficult and put at enormous risk,” Valdette Willeman, the director of the Center for Attention for Honduran Migrants, told Reuters.
- Number of Dreamers: 19,792
Close to 20,000 Dreamers are from Guatemala, making up 2.5% of all approved DACA applications. Most Guatemalan immigrants in the U.S. live in California, and the Guatemalan Consulate in Los Angeles has said it will pay the $495 DACA renewal fee for Guatemalan nationals.
2. El Salvador
- Number of Dreamers: 28,371
Close to 4% of Dreamers are originally from El Salvador. Most live in California and Texas, according to the Migration Policy Institute. In addition to DACA recipients, many more Salvadoran immigrants have temporary protected status. That status allows them to legally live and work in the U.S. because it isn’t safe to return to their home country, but it doesn’t offer permanent residency. Now, the White House has suggested it might let the temporary protected status for El Salvador expire in March, CNN reported, which could put more than 200,000 people at risk of deportation.
- Number of Dreamers: 618,342
Nearly 80% of all DACA recipients are originally from Mexico. With hundreds of thousands of people facing deportation if DACA is rescinded, the Mexican government is urging Congress to create a replacement for the program. Mexico has also said it will provide legal assistance to its citizens and “receive with open arms any dreamers who return.” In addition, the government has promised education, language classes, and job assistance to Dreamers who return to Mexico, many of whom have not lived in the country for decades.