August 15, 2013, marked the one year anniversary of the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program was initiated by the Obama administration with the goal of giving young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children without permission, the opportunity to work and live free from the fear of deportation. So, what have we learned about the program one year later?
First, and perhaps most importantly, we know that the success rate for DACA applicants is extremely high; only 1.7% of the applications have been denied. Second, it has been shown that the majority of those who have been granted deferred status have obtained a new job, opened their first bank account, and began to build credit.
Second, unfortunately, not everyone who is eligible to apply for deferred status have taken advantage of the program. The Immigration Policy Center estimates that more than 936,000 immigrants were eligible to apply for deferred status at the time the program was implemented. U.S. Customs and Immigration Services published data indicates that only 557,412 applications had been received by the Service as of June 30, 2013. Statistics gathered by the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy think tank, suggest that many of those who have not filed for DACA are African and Asian-born.
Why have so many not applied for DACA? The reasons are varied, but include the inability to gather the evidence necessary to documentation, financial constraints, or the fear that the program will be closed upon the election of a Republican president. While these concerns are valid, by consulting with an immigration lawyer, you may learn how to overcome those issues, obtain information to alleviate those fears and move forward with your life.
Remember: being “DACAumented” allows you to work, to build credit, to attend college, and, in most states, to obtain a driver’s licence; all of this enables you to better your life and the lives of your family members. As an added incentive, comprehensive immigration reform as currently written (but not signed into law) indicates that DACA recipients will be placed in the front of the line of immigrants seeking to receive their green cards! This provision would enable DACA recipients to obtain their green cards years before others.
Everyone who is eligible to apply for DACA should do so! It is time for all immigrant youth who are eligible for DACA to stop living in fear and instead to start (or continue) chasing the American dream. Set up an appointment today to learn how your DACA request may be improved.