The Obama administration released updated statistics today that indicated that, as of yesterday, 53,273 undocumented youths have received relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
As of Nov. 15, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received more than 300,000 requests for deferred action. Most of those applicants are still awaiting the completion of background checks.
The figures the administration released didn't indicate either how many beneficiaries have received work permits under the program or whether any requests for deferred action have been denied.
DACA directs U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to practice prosecutorial discretion towards those who came to the United States without documents as minor children.
At the rate the agency is processing applications, it appears likely that more than 100,000 requests for deferred action will be granted by the end of the year.
To be eligible for the DACA program an applicant must be under 31 years of age and present in the U.S. by June 15 of this year and came to the U.S. before age 16. Applicants must have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, they must have attended school or served in the military and have no serious criminal record.
The grant of deferred action doesn't confer lawful immigration status. It doesn't change an individual’s existing immigration status or allow a path to citizenship. It does, however, provide relief from deportation for a two year period and allows beneficiaries to apply for work authorization.
The statistics indicated that USCIS has accepted 298,834 applicants who have submitted the $394 processing fee. Currently there are 273,203 scheduled to for the $85 biometrics analysis. A total of 124,572 cases are presently under review.
The DACA federal policy directive could potentially benefit 1.76 million young immigrants who came to the United States with their parents without proper authorization and have subsequently lived and worked here, making the United States their own country. They are eager to contribute to the nation, but they encounter obstacles hindering their ability to pursue their dreams.
Members of the population group affected by DACA are frequently referred to as the "DREAMers" because they would be the beneficiaries of the often-proposed but still unenacted DREAM Act legislation. That decade-long legislative effort would provide conditional permanent residency to those who fulfill requirements.
In related news, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas and other senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials announced that they will hold a stakeholder conference call on Monday, Nov. 19, to discuss deferred action for childhood arrivals. During the teleconference, Director Mayorkas will provide updates on the process of requesting deferred action and take questions via phone, email and Twitter.
In anticipation of the conference call, the Public Engagement division at USCIS is accepting advance questions on DACA from the public via Twitter and email.
The United States needs to facilitate a path to citizenship for this significant segment of the population. By refusing to acknowledge the potential contributions of youth and thereby thwarting their potential, the nation furthers a "no-win" situation. Lives of individuals are stunted through no fault of their own, the nation is divided, and the world is denied the gifts of those who have so much to give. DACA is a first step in the right direction of righting a dead-end situation.
DACA is, in effect, the first significant immigration policy development since the Reagan Administration provided legal status to three million undocumented immigrants. While the action is political, its effect is highly personal because it wields an overwhelming impact on the lives of the youth of the United States. DACA is an important process leading toward a just future.