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Research Letter
July 2018

Association of Maternal Eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program With Citizen Children’s Participation in the Women, Infants, and Children Program

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 3Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 4Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 5Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 6Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(7):699-701. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0775

Nearly 7% of children living in the United States, the vast majority of whom are US citizens, have at least 1 undocumented immigrant parent.1 These children face several disadvantages, culminating in reduced lifetime socioeconomic mobility and reduced well-being.1 One mechanism underlying these adverse consequences could be failure to receive critical public benefits despite meeting eligibility criteria because undocumented parents may be less likely to apply for these services on their child’s behalf if they fear being discovered by immigration authorities.2,3

Policies that bring undocumented parents “out of the shadows,” such as the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, may have positive spillover effects for their children by improving uptake of public benefits. We examined the association of parental DACA eligibility with children’s participation in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, a benefit that has been shown to improve child health and socioeconomic outcomes.4