Together with the original DACA program that was announced in June 2012—would allow approximately 5 million unauthorized parents and DREAMers to gain temporary protection from deportation and the opportunity to apply for a work permit.
Over this same period, the U.S. gross domestic product would increase cumulatively by $230 billion, and an average of 29,000 jobs would be created each year.
Similar benefits would be realized in states all across the country. Increased wages for DAPA-eligible families would lift American children out of poverty—more than 40,000 children in California alone—and improve educational outcomes for these future workers and voters.
But little has been written to date about the political impact that U.S. citizen family members of DAPA-eligible individuals—an often-overlooked population—might have on future elections. By definition, many of the people who would receive protection through DAPA have children who are U.S. citizens who are now, or who soon will become, eligible to vote. Many also have other relatives and loved ones who are U.S. citizens.
DAPA-sensitive voters could have the biggest political impact in battleground states where they will make up sizeable and potentially decisive portions of the electorate by 2016 and 2020.
One of those states is Florida, where President Obama won by about 74,000 votes in 2012. Next year, DAPA-affected voters may cast nearly 60,000 votes in the state. And by 2020, that number will rise to about 85,000, exceeding Obama’s 2012 margin of victory, according to the report.
With President Obama’s executive actions to shield up to five million immigrants from deportation now stalled in the courts, the conventional wisdom is that his proposal is a loser for the administration and the Democrats. Twenty-six states filed suit to stop him and it’s safe to say an energized Republican base hasn’t been enthusiastic about the president’s idea. Those immigrants have citizen family members, most likely their children, who can vote.
Five other battleground states where DAPA-affected voters could have a big impact in the 2016 election are Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia. In all of these six states, voters will be considering not only presidential candidates, but also candidates for U.S. Senate races, many of which are expected to be close. The percentages vary and admittedly are not quite as dramatic as the Florida example, but they can’t be easily dismissed either. The result of these races could determine which party takes control of the Senate.
The report also found that the vast majority of DAPA-affected U.S. citizens are children who are under the age of 18 and thus not eligible to vote yet; at least 4 million of these U.S. citizen children will turn 18 by 2032. Though these young U.S. citizens can’t vote now, they will be able to vote in the future.
It appears that upcoming elections in key states will see large numbers of voters who, in the authors’ words, “have a strong personal interest in a candidate’s position with respect to DAPA.”