USDOL Clarifies DACA Youth’s WIA Eligibility

By Rachel Unruh, June 15, 2014

Today, the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA) issued a Training and Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL) clarifying that under the Workforce Investment Act’s (WIA’s) non-discrimination provisions, work-authorized Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) participants are eligible for WIA and Wagner-Peyser programs.

NSC applauds DOLETA for issuing this guidance. In February, NSC, United We Dream and the National Immigration Law Center sent a memo to the Department of Labor requesting official clarification on the issue.

Today’s TEGL applies to all programs authorized under WIA, including Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth programs; National Emergency Grants; Indian and Native American Program; National Farmworker Jobs Program; Reintegration of Ex-Offender Program; YouthBuild; and Job Corps. The TEGL also indicates that Wagner-Peyser services are available to all DACA participants.

While not mentioned in the TEGL, it should be noted that the nondiscrimination provisions under current WIOA law remain the same under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). WIOA reauthorizes WIA and after passing the Senate and House, is awaiting the President’s signature.

Two years ago, President Obama implemented deferred action on deportation for some undocumented youth who came to the United States as children and pursued education or military service. According to the action, in order to meet the education requirement, an individual must be in “an education, literacy, or career training program (including vocational training) that is designed to lead to placement in postsecondary education, job training, or employment.” In order to meet this requirement, DACA recipients in certain communities will attempt to access Title I programs in order to continue with education and workforce training opportunities.

Without immigrants and their children, the U.S. workforce cannot expect to replace the number of workers projected to retire from the labor force over the next 25 years. Middle-skill jobs, which require more than a high school education but less than a four-year degree, currently comprise the largest segment of jobs in the U.S. economy and will continue to for years to come. At present rates, by 2020, the United States will lack 5 million workers with the necessary postsecondary education and training. Without adequate investments in a skilled workforce, jobseekers will struggle to succeed in the labor market, and employers will struggle to compete in the global economy.

NSC applauds the Department of Labor for its efforts to ensure the United States has a workforce with the skills that families and industries need to compete and prosper.