In its first year, only 58% of those estimated eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have applied. The Obama Administration’s “deferred action” program was announced on June 15, 2012.
The DACA offers a two-year renewable deferral of removal action and a grant of employment authorization to qualifying immigrants, brought to the United States as youths. In order to qualify, individuals must:
- Be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
- Have come to the United States before the age of 16;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007;
- Currently be in school, have graduated or obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces;
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reported that 539,128 applications were received through May, 2013. These applications account for only 58% of those 936,933 immigrants estimated by the Immigration Policy Center to be immediately eligible for DACA. This number has been attributed by some to the high cost of the application process, ongoing political negotiations over wider immigration reform, and insufficient access to legal advice.