Opportunity for Health

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

Atheendar S. Venkataramani, MD, PhD · Maya Venkataramani, MD, MPH · Craig Evan Pollack, MD, MHS · Lisa Ross DeCamp, MD, MSPH · Kathryn M. Leifheit, MSPH · Zackary D. Berger, MD, PhD
JAMA Pediatrics · February 28, 2018

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. 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

1 Capps R, Fix M, Zong J. A Profile of US Children With Unauthorized Immigrant Parents. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute; 2016.

2 Vargas ED,Pirog MA. Mixed-status families and WIC uptake: the effects of risk of deportation on program use. Soc Sci Q. 2016;97(3):555-572.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS): Fatal Injury Reports, 1999-2015, for National, Regional, and States. https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html. Accessed January 24, 2018.

3 Joe S, Canetto SS, Romer D. Advancing prevention research on the role of culture in suicide prevention. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2008;38(3):354-362.