DACA's (Temporary) Influence on Immigration Attitudes

In this working paper, I present evidence that DACA had a temporary, liberalizing effect on all American’s immigration attitudes.

I exploit variation in the 2012 GSS, which was in the field while DACA was being announced, to present evidence that DACA had a small, but significant, average effect on American’s preferred immigration levels. The effect only lasted a few weeks.

Furthermore, I present preliminary evidence that the effect occurred by priming Americans’ conservatism around family and gender issues, making those considerations more important in developing their immigration policy preferences. This suggests that, albeit briefly, Obama’s frame of the policy as assisting young Americans, temporarily, won some support for the policy.


Survey respondents’ reports of preferred levels of immigration increased to a small but significant extent immediately after President Obama’s announcement of the DACA initiative.


GSS. 2020. “Individual Year Data Sets: 2012.” Data available here.

Colin Cepuran Written by:

Colin Cepuran is a political scientist and a policy analyst working in Houston, TX.