Number of Dreamers Under 2021 Dream Act - FWD.us (2023)

Fact Sheet / /News /Dreamers /Immigration /Pathway

March 7th, 2023

Number of Dreamers Under 2021 Dream Act - FWD.us (1)

The bipartisan Dream Act of 2023, introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would establish a pathway to citizenship for certain Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age and have grown up here. As legal challenges threaten the future of this critical policy, this legislation is necessary to ensure that Dreamers can continue living in and contributing to the country they call home. A pathway to citizenship for Dreamers is long overdue.

Here are some important numbers about Dreamers, based on FWD.us estimates and as defined by the 2023 Dream Act, showing why every U.S. Senator should cosponsor this critical legislation.

1 | POPULATION
Nearly 2.3 million immigrants would have a pathway to U.S. citizenship through the Dream Act.

The Dream Act of 2023 (S. 365) defines Dreamers as individuals who entered the U.S. before age 18 and have continually lived in the United States since at least four years prior to the date the bill is signed into law.1 Eligible Dreamers must be inadmissible/deportable under current immigration law, or protected by Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Dreamers in the 2023 Dream Act also must have finished high school or its equivalent, or be enrolled in school.

Nearly 2.3 million immigrants living in the U.S. would be eligible under the 2023 Dream Act, making up roughly one-fifth of the total population of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

More than 1 million, or greater than half of the immigrant population covered by the 2023 Dream Act, are generally eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This policy was implemented in 2012 and was open to eligible individuals who entered the U.S. in 2007 or earlier, at 15 years old or younger, and were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. DACA applicants must also have obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent, be currently enrolled in school, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.

About 590,000 Dreamers had active DACA status as of September 30, 2022, and under the Dream Act of 2023 would be eligible for immediate conditional permanent residence.

Unfortunately, an estimated 400,000 DACA-eligible Dreamers are currently unable to access DACA protections, including an estimated 95,000 Dreamers who have already applied for DACA, because a federal judge has prohibited the government from processing new applications. Additionally, FWD.us estimates that there are an additional 600,000 vulnerable, school-aged Dreamers who are unable to meet DACA eligibility requirements because they came to the U.S. too recently.

A small number of Dreamers under the 2023 Dream Act—an estimated 125,000, or nearly 6%—are holders of, or are eligible for, TPS, a renewable protection for certain immigrants in the U.S. where the U.S. government has deemed it unsafe for them to return to their country of origin. Most are from Haiti, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Honduras.

Table: Estimated number of Dreamers eligible for the 2023 Dream Act, by state (click + to expand)
StateEstimated eligible population% eligible for DACA
Alabama17,00044
Alaska2,00031
Arizona59,00073
Arkansas17,00059
California430,00060
Colorado46,00057
Connecticut20,00044
Delaware4,00065
District of Columbia3,00045
Florida182,00033
Georgia77,00053
Hawaii8,00050
Idaho10,00042
Illinois87,00063
Indiana31,00061
Iowa15,00059
Kansas15,00061
Kentucky10,00045
Louisiana13,00030
Maine3,00021
Maryland40,00030
Massachusetts33,00045
Michigan26,00062
Minnesota31,00057
Mississippi6,00050
Missouri21,00050
Montana2,00086
Nebraska14,00054
Nevada32,00064
New Hampshire4,00051
New Jersey79,00039
New Mexico16,00063
New York130,00044
North Carolina67,00051
North Dakota2,00021
Ohio26,00050
Oklahoma17,00062
Oregon28,00070
Pennsylvania36,00053
Rhode Island4,00050
South Carolina21,00052
South Dakota3,00015
Tennessee35,00043
Texas372,00050
Utah31,00060
Vermont2,00015
Virginia49,00041
Washington57,00060
West Virginia1,00047
Wisconsin28,00061
Wyoming1,00087

Source: FWD.us analysis of 2021 augmented American Community Survey data
Note: Estimates rounded to 1,000. Dreamers are defined as undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before 18 years old, in 2018 or earlier, and are in school or have the equivalent of a high school diploma or higher education.

2 | AGE
Most immigrants who would be covered under the 2023 Dream Act are younger than 30 years old.

While Dreamers have grown up in America and many have held DACA for many years, the potentially eligible population under this bill is relatively young.

All told, more than 1.5 million of the immigrants who would be covered under the 2023 Dream Act, or more than two-thirds, are younger than 30 years old. Their median age is 24.

Nearly 600,000 eligible Dreamers are minors who are less than 18 years old, while about 1.7 million are 18 years or older. Most Dreamers younger than 18 are ineligible for DACA, even if new applications were being processed, because DACA’s arrival requirements have not been updated since the policy was implemented in 2012.

Table: Estimated ages of Dreamers eligible for the 2023 Dream Act, by state
State%<18 years old%18-29 years old% 30 years or older
Alabama354025
Alaska771112
Arizona125335
Arkansas254134
California164440
Colorado254332
Connecticut315117
Delaware266014
District of Columbia343927
Florida373923
Georgia303931
Hawaii233938
Idaho284923
Illinois154738
Indiana225524
Iowa294228
Kansas254629
Kentucky384516
Louisiana353728
Maine26687
Maryland314623
Massachusetts304525
Michigan304327
Minnesota424018
Mississippi186121
Missouri304030
Montana57421
Nebraska285022
Nevada154243
New Hampshire216712
New Jersey324424
New Mexico294823
New York254233
North Carolina284131
North Dakota8668
Ohio384516
Oklahoma165232
Oregon95636
Pennsylvania304525
Rhode Island472330
South Carolina214632
South Dakota77815
Tennessee393922
Texas264628
Utah184735
Vermont77194
Virginia294922
Washington204734
West Virginia392041
Wisconsin263538
Wyoming67618

Source: FWD.us analysis of 2021 augmented American Community Survey data
Note: Age is for year 2021.

3 | ORIGINS AND ARRIVAL IN U.S.
Dreamers are from all over the world, most have have lived in the U.S. for 10+ years and entered when they were very young

Dreamers eligible under the Dream Act have grown up in America, with three-fourths living in the U.S. for the majority of their lives.

About 1.7 million immigrants under the Dream Act of 2023, or roughly three-fourths (76%), entered the U.S. in 2012 or earlier—a decade ago or longer.

And nearly the same number—1.7 million, or 76% of eligible Dreamers—arrived before the age of 13, meaning they have spent many of their most formative years in the United States.

Nearly half of Dreamers eligible under the 2023 Dream Act, or nearly 1 million people, were born in Mexico, while the other half of potential beneficiaries came from a diverse range of countries.

About 370,000, or 17%, are from Asian countries such as India, China, and the Philippines. About 320,000, or 17%, were born in Central American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. About 160,000, or 7%, are from South American countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil, while 160,000, or 7%, are from European countries or Canada. About 120,000, or 6%, are from Caribbean countries like Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, and 110,000, or 5%, were born in either Africa or the Middle East.

Table: Estimated arrival and years in U.S. of Dreamers eligible for 2023 Dream Act
State% entered U.S. before age 13% in U.S. 10+ years
Alabama7070
Alaska9334
Arizona8289
Arkansas8181
California7684
Colorado8082
Connecticut7667
Delaware8495
District of Columbia7666
Florida7258
Georgia7674
Hawaii7282
Idaho5460
Illinois7387
Indiana7779
Iowa7774
Kansas7887
Kentucky8668
Louisiana6548
Maine6464
Maryland6063
Massachusetts7273
Michigan7985
Minnesota8676
Mississippi7172
Missouri7579
Montana8989
Nebraska8875
Nevada7385
New Hampshire5974
New Jersey7263
New Mexico9172
New York7176
North Carolina7274
North Dakotan/a72
Ohio8769
Oklahoma7683
Oregon6892
Pennsylvania7777
Rhode Island8578
South Carolina7182
South Dakota9061
Tennessee7762
Texas7574
Utah7583
Vermont8674
Virginia7068
Washington6783
West Virginia9465
Wisconsin8486
Wyoming84n/a

Source: FWD.us analysis of 2021 augmented American Community Survey data
Note: 10+ years refers to U.S. entry in 2012 or earlier. N/A refers to states with no characteristics available due to small number of Dreamers.

4 | EDUCATION
4 | EDUCATION More than 900,000 potential beneficiaries are currently earning their education in the U.S.

To be eligible for the pathway to legal status in this proposal, potential beneficiaries must be enrolled in school, have earned a high school diploma or equivalency, or meet military service requirements.

The majority of eligible Dreamers would fulfill this requirement by having already completed part of their education. More than 1.6 million Dreamers eligible under the Dream Act, or nearly three-fourths (73%), have already completed high school or its equivalent. Some 250,000, or more than 1 in 10 (11%) Dreamers covered by the framework, have also completed a college degree or diploma.

Yet many eligible Dreamers are younger and are still pursuing their education. Among the individuals included in the framework are an estimated 600,000 K–12 students and 300,000 college or university students, or some 900,000 students total. Of this group of students, an estimated 300,000 are currently eligible for DACA; the rest arrived too recently to qualify for DACA protections.

Table: Estimated educational enrollment/attainment of Dreamers eligible for the 2023 Dream Act
ENROLLMENTATTAINMENT
State% enrolled in K-12 school% enrolled in a college program% with a high school completion% with a college degree or diploma
Alabama349655
Alaska77223<1
Arizona14158713
Arkansas256776
California18148214
Colorado2617749
Connecticut36266610
Delaware2720745
District of Columbia38246430
Florida3914609
Georgia3212689
Hawaii305756
Idaho26287419
Illinois18188315
Indiana2617766
Iowa3224676
Kansas3016704
Kentucky4123609
Louisiana41116014
Maine384062<1
Maryland3421668
Massachusetts34196921
Michigan32226814
Minnesota4685715
Mississippi22347221
Missouri32117013
Montana21297914
Nebraska31166913
Nevada1711859
New Hampshire3623618
New Jersey34136412
New Mexico3010687
New York28147416
North Carolina289699
North Dakota863147
Ohio41135913
Oklahoma1614827
Oregon1111917
Pennsylvania36186815
Rhode Island5016538
South Carolina239776
South Dakota77<1238
Tennessee4285810
Texas2912719
Utah1916809
Vermont828234
Virginia3219689
Washington2514759
West Virginia3532618
Wisconsin26107613
Wyoming64894<1

Source: FWD.us analysis of 2021 augmented American Community Survey data

5 | WORKFORCE
Nearly half of immigrants covered by the Dream Act work in industries with severe labor shortages .

Many individuals eligible for lawful status under this proposal—including work authorization—are already trained and employed in critical industries, including many industries facing significant labor shortages.

Roughly one million potential beneficiaries, nearly half of all eligible individuals, are working in industries experiencing 5% or higher job-opening rates. This is a high number of crucial workers, despite the fact that many Dreamers are enrolled in school.

More specifically, an estimated 190,000 eligible individuals work in construction, 190,000 in retail trade, 170,000 in accommodation and food services, 140,000 in manufacturing, 140,000 in professional and business services, 110,000 in healthcare and social assistance, and 80,000 in transportation, warehousing, and utilities.

In all, 6 in 10 immigrants under the Dream Act of 2023 are in the workforce, or more than 1.3 million.

Table: Estimated workforce of Dreamers eligible for 2023 Dream Act
State% working in industries with labor shortages% working in other industries
Alabama455
Alaska162
Arizona6312
Arkansas4910
California5415
Colorado519
Connecticut4310
Delaware5112
District of Columbia3519
Florida428
Georgia506
Hawaii5416
Idaho1932
Illinois5911
Indiana5314
Iowa576
Kansas5014
Kentucky426
Louisiana365
Maine1734
Maryland446
Massachusetts4313
Michigan507
Minnesota5011
Mississippi401
Missouri515
Montana68<1
Nebraska645
Nevada638
New Hampshire623
New Jersey487
New Mexico496
New York4710
North Carolina547
North Dakota105
Ohio488
Oklahoma628
Oregon6214
Pennsylvania426
Rhode Island2918
South Carolina576
South Dakota3221
Tennessee437
Texas459
Utah537
Vermont<118
Virginia499
Washington4521
West Virginia42<1
Wisconsin5811
Wyoming353

Source: FWD.us analysis of 2021 augmented American Community Survey data
Note: Shares are for total Dreamer population, not only those in the labor force. Industries with labor shortages are those with 5% or higher job-opening rates according to Bureau of Labor statistics. N/A refers to states with no characteristics available due to small number of Dreamers.

6 | ECONOMIC IMPACT
If the Dream Act becomes law, Dreamers are positioned to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy within the next decade.

Even with limited protections and opportunities, Dreamers contribute tremendously to their communities and the economy. With access to lawful status and, eventually, citizenship, Dreamers would be positioned to contribute even more.

Dreamers covered by the 2023 Dream Act already contribute an estimated $45 billion to the U.S. economy each year through their wages, and pay $13 billion annually in combined federal, payroll, state, and local taxes.

According to FWD.us economic projections, just those eligible for DACA, a subset of Dreamers covered in the Dream Act, would contribute at least $390 billion in wages and $117 billion in combined taxes over the next decade.

Table: Estimated annual economic contributions of Dreamers eligible for the 2023 Dream Act
StateAnnual spending power (in millions)Annual taxes paid (in millions)
Alabama29870
Alaska389
Arizona1,290333
Arkansas30975
California10,0003,060
Colorado977282
Connecticut381130
Delaware9218
District of Columbia11649
Florida3,260822
Georgia1,480390
Hawaii18566
Idaho12731
Illinois1,780539
Indiana545145
Iowa29073
Kansas381129
Kentucky16442
Louisiana18449
Maine174
Maryland661196
Massachusetts706242
Michigan486141
Minnesota698182
Mississippi5911
Missouri406101
Montana287
Nebraska367118
Nevada712164
New Hampshire6818
New Jersey1,600484
New Mexico30478
New York2,540913
North Carolina1,270321
North Dakota5314
Ohio451123
Oklahoma26261
Oregon557145
Pennsylvania562173
Rhode Island5717
South Carolina40685
South Dakota368
Tennessee718178
Texas6,7201770
Utah624164
Vermont277
Virginia891259
Washington1,290399
West Virginia133
Wisconsin533140
Wyoming123

Source: FWD.us analysis of 2021 augmented American Community Survey data
Note: Spending power is total wages. Tax rates are based on 2018 federal and state tax rates. N/A refers to states with no characteristics available due to small number of Dreamers.

7 | FAMILIES
Substantial shares of covered immigrants are parents of a U.S. citizen child, and many are married to U.S. citizens.

Dreamers have grown up in America, building lives and families here. Establishing a pathway to legal status for Dreamers would directly affect hundreds of thousands of American families and U.S. citizens.

Some 4750,000 immigrants under the 2023 Dream Act, or roughly one-fifth of all potential beneficiaries, are parents of at least one U.S. citizen child. This amounts to about 750,000 U.S. citizen minor children with at least one Dreamer parent.

At the same time, more than 200,000 Dreamers covered by the proposal, or about 1 in 10, are married to U.S. citizens. This means that nearly half of eligible Dreamers who are married have a spouse who is a U.S. citizen.

Most Dreamers entered the U.S. without a visa and without inspection, and thus are currently ineligible for permanent residency under existing pathways, even though they have immediate family members who are U.S. citizens.

Table: Estimated share with U.S. citizen family members among Dreamers eligible for the 2023 Dream Act
State% parent of U.S. citizen children% married to U.S. citizen spouse
Alabama147
Alaska125
Arizona2716
Arkansas3511
California2210
Colorado217
Connecticut129
Delaware114
District of Columbia1312
Florida137
Georgia1910
Hawaii715
Idaho304
Illinois2512
Indiana2213
Iowa2916
Kansas3514
Kentucky1610
Louisiana126
Maine64
Maryland145
Massachusetts1110
Michigan1314
Minnesota197
Mississippi4313
Missouri2411
Montana1818
Nebraska2814
Nevada3414
New Hampshire1212
New Jersey176
New Mexico2710
New York159
North Carolina218
North Dakota48
Ohio136
Oklahoma378
Oregon2811
Pennsylvania127
Rhode Island44
South Carolina278
South Dakota7<1
Tennessee154
Texas2410
Utah3511
Vermont44
Virginia166
Washington257
West Virginia<1<1
Wisconsin296
Wyoming1725

Source: FWD.us analysis of 2021 augmented American Community Survey data

Notes

  1. Our estimates define Dreamers as undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before 18 years old, in 2018 or earlier, and are in school or have the equivalent of a high school diploma or higher education. For more information, read about our methodology here.

Read related articles:
Blog Immigration Dream Act of 2023: Priority Bill Spotlight

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