As President Trump nears a decision on keeping or killing former President Obama's deportation deferral for some 800,000 illegal "youths," studies are emerging showing that the population is far less educated than the media is reporting and stressed out over their undocumented status.

A leading expert, Harvard University's Roberto G. Gonzales, reveals that once the so-called "dreamers" grow into their 20s, anxiety becomes an issue.

In a report for the American Psychological Association and in a recently released book titled Lives in Limbo, he wrote, "in their 20s, many undocumented young adults began to express physical and emotional manifestations of stress — chronic headaches, toothaches, ulcers, trouble sleeping, eating problems and suicidal ideation."

The APA report added, "When we asked respondents who they go to for emotional support, many alluded to ‘putting on a mask' to conceal their stress from those around them."

The media has portrayed those granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status as college students, but the studies prove otherwise.

Gonzales again, in a study of over 2,300 DACA recipients for the American Behavioral Scientist, found:

  • 73 percent live in a low-income family (determined by receiving free/discounted meals when they were in high school).
  • Their average age is 22.6.
  • Only 22 percent had bachelor's degrees, and 27 percent had attended a 4-year college but did not graduate.

Jessica M. Vaughan, a DACA expert and director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, told Secrets that the statistics "undercuts the image of DACA that has been spread by the pro-illegal alien groups and the news media, that the DACA recipients are mostly college kids. This is not true. We don't know much about the population, but one of the few credible studies that has been done, by a scholar at Harvard University, found that at most are more than 22 years old, and only about 20 percent graduated from or attended a four-year college. A significant share never went beyond high school."

Another study of DACA recipients for the liberal Center for American Progress found:

  • 13.1 percent are not employed.
  • 51.3 percent were already employed before DACA.
  • Average median age is 25 and 66.4 percent are female.
  • 25 percent have a degree - 53.4 percent are not currently in school.
  • 11 percent are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender.
  • 90 percent are Hispanic.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at