Late last week the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) released new acceptance numbers for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Of the 179,794 applications submitted from August 15 until October 10 4,591 were accepted. Doing the math, this means that 2.5 percent of the applications submitted received a positive response, meaning a two-year deportation reprieve and a work permit. USCIS is also claiming that they have not officially rejected anyone yet but that have instead have sent out 1,825 “Notice of Intent to Deny” and ”Request for Evidence, forms which gives the applicants 30 days to correct mistakes, or 84 days to provide more evidence, respectively.
Naysayers of the program, like me, who say this limbo status is an election year ploy, are being told by many to be patient and give the program a chance. After all, according USCIS itself, most applications will take 4 to 6 months to process.
What especially concerns me is that we have no idea what will happen to this program after November 6th, regardless of who wins the presidential election. We also have no idea what will happen once people actually do start getting rejected. Will those rejected be targeted for deportation? Additionally the amount of misinformation about DACA is really troubling. I am still seeing some major media outlets calling it an Executive Order – it is not- it is a Department of Homeland Security Memo. I also have heard some media and organizations refer to DACA as the DREAM Act when actually it gives no legal status beyond a very temporary protected 2 year period.
Last summer, I made a similar criticism of the so-called Morton Memo and the prosecutorial discretion it instructed DHS to follow. The magic number, that is the number of cases found eligible for administrative closure – that is indefinitely suspended- was between 2 and 7 percent, hardly a landslide victory that many immigration advocates were fighting for. I guess we will have to wait and see how high the DACA numbers reach especially as more non-profits push for more applications by election day.