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DACA before US Supreme Court: What this means for Missouri


The U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides certain protections to some undocumented immigrants, many who came to the country as children. 

The program was created through executive action by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to protect minors who came to the U.S. illegally, called “Dreamers,” from immediate deportation. But the Trump administration has attempted to end the program, meeting legal challenges along the way. 

The Trump administration has argued it should have the same authority to end the program that Obama had in creating it. President Donald Trump said a “deal” with Democrats could be made for a legislative fix should the Supreme Court side with him. 

While a decision from the nation’s highest court isn’t expected until 2020, here’s what DACA means for Missouri. 

DACA in Missouri by the numbers 

The New American Economy (NAE), a bipartisan research and advocacy group related to immigration policies, estimated more than 7,500 DACA-eligible residents live in Missouri. 

“In order to get a better example and idea of their economic contributions into the workforce or in terms of spending or tax contributions, we use that data,” Andrew Lim, director of quantitative research for NAE, told The Missouri Times. 

The liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) put the number of actual DACA recipients in Missouri at nearly 3,100. The average age of arrival for Missourians with DACA status is 8 years old, entering the U.S. in 2000, the policy institute said. 

Additionally, CAP found about 1,700 U.S.-born children in Missouri have DACA-recipient parents. 

The NAE also found an “overwhelming” amount of DACA-eligible people in Missouri participate in the workforce: 98.2 percent. That population also contributes about $8.3 million in state and local taxes, leaving $97.3 million in “total spending power” for things such as housing, groceries, and more, according to the NAE’s data. 

Should DACA be rescinded, Missouri Dreamers could face a “whole lot of ramifications” in terms of what jobs are available and mobility to get to work, Lim said. Additionally, some people could face deportation. 

“If that’s the case, we could — as a country and as a state — be losing a lot of the investment we made in these people,” said Lim. “A lot of them came up through the public school system. They’ve already been working, adding their skills, [and] a lot of them do have college educations. At a time when labor markets are already particularly tight and the economy needs workers at all levels … you’re losing a really productive — because they’re so young in terms of their working-age — member of the workforce.” 

A 2017 study from CAP estimated an annual GDP loss of more than $209 million in Missouri should workers with DACA status be removed from the state. 

About 700,000 people have DACA status nationwide. 

Budget fight in the General Assembly

Missouri has mandated undocumented immigrants, including DACA recipients, pay international rates at public universities since 2015. A Senate bill from that same year also prevents students from receiving the Missouri A+ scholarship. 

But the General Assembly caused a ruckus during the 2019 session when lawmakers almost changed that. Initially, the Conference Committee on the Budget removed a requirement stipulating undocumented immigrants be charged international tuition, allowing colleges to set their own policies. 

Ultimately, lawmakers backtracked and left the mandates as they were. 

Sanctuary in the Show-Me State

Another target for the Trump administration has been so-called sanctuary cities. Generally speaking, sanctuary cities (or counties or states) limit how much local law enforcement officials cooperate with federal immigration authorities. 

Missouri banned cities from adopting these types of policies in 2009. A Senate bill expanding the prohibitions to include counties was unsuccessful this year.