Reaching the Six-Month Mark on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

7448545692_8ef54f6477_zThe Department of Homeland Security has issued its latest data on the Obama Administration’s initiative that offers deferment from deportation and temporary work permits to young undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. In the first six months of the program (August 15–February 14), 423,634 out of the roughly 936,933 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 who might immediately meet the requirements, have had their applications accepted for processing. In other words, approximately 45% of those potentially eligible for the program have applied in the first six months. In addition, since February, 199,460 individuals have been approved for DACA and will receive two-year temporary work permits.

As the program moves forward, a range of issues have emerged in the states in which DACA recipients reside, particularly around the issuance of driver’s licenses. Once DACA recipients receive work permits, they can get Social Security cards. In most states this should make them eligible for a driver’s license if they can meet their state’s others requirements. In addition, the – the Department of Homeland Security has gone to lengths to clarify that DACA recipients are ‘lawfully present’ in order to help state’s avoid undue restrictions on DACA recipients. However, some states, like Arizona, are determined to change the rules specifically so they can deny driver’s licenses to DACA recipients. The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) keeps close track of developments on the driver’s license front and has even filed a lawsuit in Arizona to challenge their rule change.

On the national level, shortly after the DACA initiative was announced, the Obama Administration announced that these young immigrants would not be eligible for provisions of the Affordable Care Act enacted during President Obama’s first term. Before August 30, 2012, DACA-eligible individuals in theory would have been given the same access to health care and health insurance as other individuals granted deferred action. However, an August 28, 2012, announcement by the Administration changes federal rules for DACA-eligible individuals by excluding them from affordable health insurance options that are available to other individuals with deferred action. NILC also explains and tracks efforts to change this policy.

It’s likely that, in the next six months of the program, a range of challenges will arise which may impact application levels—levels which appear to already be tapering off. For example, some argue the first individuals to apply were the simplest, most straightforward cases. DACA applicants should continue to exercise discretion and only apply for the program if they meet the strict requirements, or if they have counsel that can assist and advise them on their eligibility. The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center continues to update and publish practice advisories that deal with many of the most difficult legal issues arising in DACA cases.

Application levels to the program may also be affected in the coming months by the perception that national immigration reform legislation is likely to offer a more permanent legalization status. So why apply for DACA when something better is just around the corner? There is also the cost factor for applying, and the trust factor of handing over one’s personal information to immigration agencies. Both are likely to impact application numbers in the coming months. As the program continues to be implemented it is important to keep track of how DACA recipients move forward in their lives with their newly gained temporary legal status, and how the government process works and responds to challenges. Paying attention to both of these areas will tell us a lot about how a more permanent legalization program will shake out for both the applicants and the government agencies implementing it.

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  1. Has anyone considered the possibility that there are not 1.2 million potential applicants, as CIS originally estimated, or “roughly 936,933 ” as stated herein?

    For anyone potentially eligible, DACA is a no-brainer, especially after Obama won re-election.

    I think the real reason that less than 425.000 have applied so far is that the number of potential beneficiaries was inflated for political purposes. Anyone doing DACA applications, as our firm has, knows that applicants slowed to a trickle after the first three months.

  2. Looking at the numbers, I am amazed by the sheer amount of young people impacted by this policy change. Nearly 200,000 young immigrants now have the basic necessities that we take for granted: driving, working, etc. This change could not have happened without all the immigrants’ rights activist organisations. I am just glad that Atlas DIY and I have had some part of this change. A HUGE thank you to everyone working hard to make life better for ALL Americans.

  3. Michael A. Olivas says:

    Not only is it a no-brainer for those who are eligible, but even with this expedited and simplified process, it can take a long period of time to prepare an application correctly–the longer it takes, the longer they remain in unlawful status, unemployable, and uncertifiable (for licensed professions such as teaching, etc).

    Plus, what more do the reluctant eligible DREAMers want? This is a gift horse, and it will not get better until CIR–and we do not yet know how punitive that process will be. I will lay odds that DACA recipients who remain in good standing will have some special treatment that will ease their way to eventual LPR and USC status with CIR. Those who wait until then will have more difficulty, and surely will take a longer period of time in a queue of some sort.

    And either of these will likely require even more invasive and more personal details–and probably a great cost than the $485–so why wait? It will never get better than this, and many people have worked hard to get the process this far, including regularly doing pro bono advising and going to court for the lareger DACA-related issues.

    Anyone who advises eligible DREAMers to dodge this process should be ashamed of themselves. It has been a lifesaver, and is testament to what collective action can do and what discretionary authority is available to any President.

  4. That was awesome!thanks for sharing it.But i need proper idea about legalization status?

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