Health consequences of the US Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration programme: a quasi-experimental study

In The Lancet Public Health, Atheendar Venkataramani and colleagues investigate the physical and mental health effects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA, a 2012 U.S immigration policy, provided renewable work permits and freedom from deportation for a large number of undocumented immigrants. The researchers conducted a retrospective, quasi-experimental study using data from non-citizen Hispanic adults. They examined changes in health outcomes among individuals meeting DACA eligibility criteria before and after program implementation, and compared those data to changes in outcomes for individuals who were not DACA eligible. The primary outcomes of this study were self-reported overall health and psychological distress. The authors found that compared with DACA-ineligible people, the introduction of DACA was associated with no significant change among DACA-eligible people in terms of self-reported overall health. However, DACA eligible individuals experienced reduced psychological distress compared with DACA-ineligible individuals after the program was introduced. These findings suggest that economic opportunities and protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants could confer large mental health benefits to these individuals. Health consequences should be considered by researchers and policymakers in evaluations of the broader welfare effects of immigration policy.