The study examines the impact of DACA policy on birth outcomes

When Beatriz Rea Flores received her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State, she was also expecting her first child. As a DREAMer, she said that threats against what was then the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program during her pregnancy became a stressor for her. Luckily her child was not affected, but she is aware that this may not apply to others.

I believe it is important to have protections and/or rights for DACA recipients, especially mothers, because we are doing everything in our power to be educated, prepared and legal as individuals in the country but as soon as you expect , [as] With a student about to graduate, it’s a little different,” Flores said. “I now have two American-born children, I am educated and scared. I believe that everything that affects me affects her and it shouldn’t be like that.”

Researchers with Fresno State Central Valley Institute for Health Policy and University of California, San Francisco set out to study this topic and recently published a research study, The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program and Birth Outcomes in California: A Quasi-Experimental Study, which examines the correlation between the DACA program and positive birth outcomes.

“We started this study because more research is needed to understand the impact of immigration status on birth outcomes and the impact of immigration policies on mothers and babies,” said Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner, co-director of Central Valley Health Policy Institute and senior author on the project.

“This study provides some of the first evidence of the effect of DACA on birth outcomes and is the first to consider longer-term effects of the program. The study highlights the importance of policies for health outcomes and how policy vulnerabilities can impact outcomes in similar ways.”

In 2012, President Barack Obama issued an executive order creating the DACA program, a policy that provides temporary exemption from deportation and work permits for previously undocumented immigrants who arrived as children. In 2017, President Donald Trump ordered an end to the program.

The results of the research study started in 2009 indicate that DACA in the three years immediately after the passage of DACA (2012-15) with respect to the period before DACA (2009-12).

“However, these positive effects were no longer evident when we compared the impact of DACA on birth outcomes over the following three years (2015-18) – a time of direct threats to the DACA program – compared to the pre-DACA period,” said dr Jackie Torres, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the UCSF School of Medicine, who served as corresponding author.

In addition to the DACA study, the Central Valley Health Policy Institute is also collaborating with UCSF Fresno on the EMBRACE study, which also examines birth outcomes, specifically the impact of prenatal care on prematurity, anxiety and depression.

Going forward, Pacheco-Werner, Torres and other researchers plan to expand their research related to immigration policies and their health impacts on these communities.

“DACA recipients are an important part of the California State University community, including Fresno State,” said Pacheco-Werner. “It is important to understand how protective measures can provide longer-term benefits for this group. Right now, the Biden administration is investigating a Rule to maintain and strengthen the DACA program. Evidence of the potential benefits and things to consider if it is not a permanent policy are important to this conversation.”

Other Fresno State faculty and staff who contributed to this study include Emanuel Alcala, Associate Director of Central Valley Health Policy at Fresno State, and Amber Shaver, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology.

To learn more, contact Pacheco-Werner at [email protected]

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *