Baruch Professor Awarded $600,000 Grant To Research Impact Of Undocumented Status On ‘Dreamers’and DACA Students

Robert Smith, a professor at Baruch College’s Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, was awarded a $600,000 grant from the William T. Grant Foundation to study how recent immigration policies affect education, labor and family welfare outcomes of undocumented youth such as DREAMers and DACA recipients.

The Grant Foundation funding supports Smith’s research through 2021. Begun in 2015, Smith’s work investigates how having, lacking, gaining or losing legal status impacts young people and their families, and the life choices they make. Smith’s project screened over 1,700 young people across New York State for Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and follows a subset of them over time. Long-term undocumented status has been a key driver of inequality for America’s roughly 11 million undocumented persons, and getting legal status can reset life trajectories, Smith said.

“This grant is a timely recognition of the importance and urgency of Dr. Smith’s research on immigration status and its effect on young people’s futures and on our society,” said CUNY Interim Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz. “Through waves of immigration and changes in immigration policy, this University has been a beacon of academic opportunity for those who struggle to reach this country for a better life. We are proud that this critical research is being conducted at CUNY.”

“The earlier you get DACA, the more positive the impact,” said Smith, who explained that the benefits of DACA, given to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as young children, include “people have gotten better jobs and their stress is less. And most importantly, they’ve been able to convert their college education into more income. Teens who got DACA are more likely to study hard. For those already doing well, DACA takes the brakes off their lives.”

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, CUNY counts 13 Nobel Prize and 23 MacArthur (“Genius”) grant winners among its alumni. CUNY students, alumni and faculty have garnered scores of other prestigious honors over the years in recognition of historic contributions to the advancement of the sciences, business, the arts and myriad other fields. The University comprises 25 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 275,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.

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