Time flies. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) has recently celebrated its one year anniversary already. An approved DACA application brings with it temporary protected legal status and work authorization. The requirements are as follows:
· That the applicant was 31 or younger as of 6/15/2012;
· That the application entered the US before the age of 16;
· That the applicant has continuously resided in the US since 6/15/2007;
· That the applicant entered without inspection or lawful status expired as of 6/15/2012;
· That the applicant is in school, has graduated from high school, obtained a GED certificate, or was honorably discharged from the armed forces.
As the DACA program can be seen as a test for the ever controversial Dream Act, it is useful to crunch the numbers to see what the effect of DACA has been. Fortunately, the good people at the Brookings Institute have made the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act Requests) and have done the numbers. Based on their findings, which were based off information from August 15, 2012 to June 30, 2013, we have learned the following:
· A third of all applicants were between the ages 15 to 18
· 75% of applicants reported being in the United States for a decade or longer
· 75% of applicants came from Mexico, with the second rated country (El Salvador) only having 4% of applications
· With half a million applications, 72% have been approved, 23.5% were rejected, 3.5% were rejected, and 1% have been denied
While half a million applications have been filed, research done by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) show that there were nearly a million aliens eligible for DACA benefits. From the IPC, we know that in the first few months of the DACA program, the number of applications were high, with over 46,000 applications received in June of 2012. From there, the number of applications received per month has steadily dropped, reaching a low of 18,000 in June of 2013. Looking at the above numbers, we can tell that the success rate for DACA applications is high, an approved application brings work authorization, and only a half of all eligible aliens have attempted an application. The question then is, why?
First of all, of the potential DACA applicants, the strongest and most straightforward cases were likely made early. The numbers show that most of the applicants were young when they came to the United States, with 1/3 of the applicants being five or younger when they entered. Moreso, many applicants were already enrolled in school upon application, which made it easier to show continuous residence. Because the numbers from the ICJ include older aliens who are eligible, it must be noted that older aliens would have a harder time meeting the continuous residency requirements. And on a practical note, with more time having elapsed between their entry and the current date, they would have a much higher burden of document production to meet the requirement. Other factors beside age may also be involved. Some potential applicants may have balked at the $465 application fee, may have lacked the educational requirements, or may not know correct information about the program. Some may even see the application process itself as being too daunting.
While DACA applications have been slowing, and there may be legitimate reasons for that, it does not mean that a potential applicant should be afraid of pursuing an application. Besides the immediate protection from removal, there may be many future benefits of being a DACA grantee, such as the prospect of an accelerated path to permanent residence and citizenship should comprehensive immigration reform one day materialize.