New USCIS statistics available about DACA program

The DACA program that defers removal action for certain young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children is proving successful for many.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program has been in existence for three years and new federal statistics reveal that it is being robustly utilized by many young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children and meet other eligibility requirements.

DACA was created in the spirit of focusing federal immigration resources on undocumented immigrants who pose a threat to public safety or national security, instead of on low-risk people who were brought here as children and have lived positive lives here.

DACA requires an extensive application and supporting documentation, but if approved, grants to the successful applicant a two-year deferral of any action to deport or remove the individual from the country. In addition, the individual normally becomes eligible for employment authorization during the deferral. At the end of the two-year period, the person may reapply for another two-year DACA deferral if he or she is still eligible.

DACA eligibility is complicated, but here are the main requirements:

  • Under age 31 on June 15, 2012
  • Arrived in the U.S. before age 16
  • Continuous residence in U.S. since June 15, 2007
  • Present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of filing the DACA application
  • Had unlawful status on June 15, 2012
  • Meet certain educational or military service requirements
  • Have no or a minor criminal record and pose no security or safety threat

The new federal statistics (as of June 30, 2015) paint this picture of the robust three-year old DACA program:

  • Total number of initial and renewal applications accepted: 1.28 million
  • Total number of initial and renewal applications rejected: 78,000
  • Total number of initial and renewal applications approved: 1.06 million
  • Total number of initial and renewal applications denied: 50,000
  • Total number of initial and renewal applications still pending: 98,000
  • Mexico is the overwhelmingly top country of applicant origin at 932,000, of which 821,000 have been approved
  • Next five countries in descending order are El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, South Korea and Peru
  • California is the overwhelmingly top state of residence of applicants at 345,000
  • Next five states in descending order are Texas, Illinois, New York, Florida and Arizona

President Obama took executive action to expand DACA eligibility and extend the deferral period to three years, but this action was challenged in federal court by a coalition of states. A U.S. District Court judge in Brownsville, Texas, issued a temporary injunction ordering the expansion be put on hold pending resolution of the case, but the injunction is tied up in an appeal that could take many months to resolve. In the meantime, the original DACA program continues to operate as originally established.

Any undocumented immigrant who has questions about DACA eligibility should speak with an immigration attorney to help assess whether the individual may qualify for the deferral and work permit. Legal counsel can assist with the application (or renewal request) as it is complicated and requires extensive supporting documentation.

In addition, the lawyer can advise the individual of any other options for improving his or her immigration status.

The lawyers of U.S. Law Center with three Southern California offices represent individuals in DACA matters as well as individuals, families and businesses from across the country in a wide array of immigration issues.