Work and Employment for DACA Recipients

Yale Journal on Regulation Bulletin, Forthcoming

13 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 6 Mar 2023

See all articles by Geoffrey Heeren

Geoffrey Heeren

University of Idaho College of Law

Date Written: October 10, 2021


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has brought job opportunities and a brighter future to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrant youth. Yet some contend that the employment authorization conferred upon DACA recipients renders the program illegal because it conflicts with a supposed purpose of the immigration statute to restrict employment authorization in order to protect domestic workers and deport undocumented immigrants. This essay explains that the statute provides unambiguous authority for employment authorization for DACA recipients, and that the government's recently proposed DACA regulations are lawful insofar as they allow employment authorization for DACA recipients. In addition, the essay offers a historical overview of the regulation of immigrant work and employment in the United States in order to refute the argument that employment authorization for DACA recipients is in conflict with the underlying purpose of the immigration statute. The essay describes how the regulation of employment authorization was informed by libertarian legal doctrine as well as the country’s heavy dependence on immigrant labor, resulting in a policy that restricts the employment of unauthorized workers without making unauthorized work itself illegal. The resulting statutory language grants the executive branch plenary authority to offer employment authorization to DACA recipients.

Keywords: DACA, deferred action, work, employment, immigration

Suggested Citation

Heeren, Geoffrey, Work and Employment for DACA Recipients (October 10, 2021). Yale Journal on Regulation Bulletin, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN:

Geoffrey Heeren (Contact Author)

University of Idaho College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 442321
Moscow, ID 83844-2321
United States

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