Since 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has granted relief from deportation to illegal immigrants who, before June 2007, entered the United States as children. This month, the administration will begin to accept applications from anyone who arrived as a child before 2010. While this policy is understandably attacked as executive overreach, some critics further claim that it motivated a rush of migrant children to the Southwest border.

Newly available data—analyzed in this study for the first time—show that the massive increase in unaccompanied alien children (UACs) began before DACA was even announced in June 2012. Without knowledge of the program, the children who came to the border in early 2012 could not have been motivated by DACA. In fact, fewer UACs entered illegally in the 3 months after DACA than the 3 months before it.

The reality is that fewer children migrated illegally in 2014 than a decade earlier, indicating that illegal child migration is not a recent phenomenon. While the percentage of illegal entries by children has increased, this is mainly because entry for adults has become much more difficult due to greater border security and the absence of legal avenues for admission. Congress should respond to the expansion of DACA by enacting its own reforms without fear that those reforms will launch a rush to the border.

Read the Full Study: Examining the UAC-DACA Link

DACA Chart 1