The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program permitted undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children to apply for temporary legal status here in two-year increments. Enacted by executive order per President Obama in 2015, some 800,000 DACA recipients (97%) now live, work, and study in the US.
The Trump administration just repealed the DACA Program. Those 800,000 people may face deportation from the US in six months, March 2018, if the US Congress takes no action to pass new legislation to remediate immigration policies specific to this population. Most DACA recipients were brought to the US by their parents at the median age of 6 years old, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and know no other country as their home.
How will the DACA repeal affect the real estate industry? Most immediately, homeownership and the construction industry’s labor force will be directly hit.
Some 25% of DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, are homeowners. According to the Center of American Progress, 15.7% of those 200,000 DACA homeowners bought their first homes after their DACA application was approved. 23.5% of those 200,000 DACA homeowners were first-time buyers.
Legitimately so, many of these 200,000 Dreamer homeowners may be considering selling their homes and most certainly Dreamers who do not currently own homes in the US will not be buying homes here any time soon. States hit hardest by apprehensive DACA homeowners will be states most heavily populated by Dreamers…California (200,000) Texas (100,000-150,000), New York (54,000), Florida (42,000), Illinois (37,000), New Jersey (25,000), Arizona (24,000), North Carolina (22,000), Georgia (22,000) Washington (16,000). *Department of Homeland Security statistics
Now, the construction labor force. Homebuilders have been saying for some years now, according to the National Association of Home Builders, that there is a serious shortage of skilled labor available to work in new construction. The Pew Research Center corroborates this homebuilder viewpoint with research reporting that the number of undocumented workers in the construction industry is declining.
Though this Pew Research Center study was not specific in the share of DACA recipients in the construction industry, surely Dreamer deportations would have a significant impact on construction’s labor pool. At a time when most housing markets around the country are severely pinched for inventory, it’s most possible that a further shortage of workers in new construction would make already tight inventories even tighter.