Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Urban Studies

First Advisor

Garth Myers

Second Advisor

Xiangming Chen


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients represent a new and somewhat unexplored population within the undocumented immigrant community. Having only been introduced three years ago, they live within a state of liminality, legally present in the United States for the first time but with the understanding that it can be stripped from them without a moments warning. DACA is an executive order announced by Obama in 2012, which stated that certain DREAMers (young undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the United States by their parents at a young age) would receive temporary relief from deportation, a work permit, and a social security number for a two-year period. These benefits allow immigrant youth to start actively participating in society, open their imaginations of what kind of life they can have, and start planning their futures. For many DACA youth, this has meant finally being able to think about higher education, as they will have a legitimate way to afford college tuition.

This thesis explores how a DACA status has affected ‘DACAmented’ youths’ ability to access higher education in Connecticut. While DACA does not include direct policies concerning educational attainment, there is a strong correlation between obtaining DACA status and accessing higher education. Primarily, DACA has increased DREAMers’ access to higher education because it is easier to pay the tuition once obtaining a legal work permit. However, there are several other ways in which DACA has affected access to higher education. These include increased motivation and aspirations of immigrant students, higher availability of private scholarships, improved receptiveness of colleges to immigrant students, and a greater sense of security and belonging. This study provides an in depth analysis of how DACA has influenced access to higher education through interviews with DREAMers, immigration attorneys, non-profit service providers, youth organizers, community college instructors and high school officials.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies.