Almost one month after the implementation of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the first results have been released by the administration. According to senior immigration officials, more than 72,000 undocumented youths have applied for temporary reprieve. This week, the first approvals have been granted to applicants.
Although the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t said how many requests have been approved thus far, officials have stated that the process of examining the applications has begun. In a statement confirming the launch of application processing, department spokesman Peter Boogaard said, “This process will help DHS continue to focus immigration enforcement and ensure that resources are not spent pursuing the removal of low priority cases involving productive young people.”
While some early applications have already been approved within a month of their submission, Homeland Security expects that once the system is fully up and running, application processing will take four to six months.
The number of applicants, while significant, falls short of the high estimate of 250,000 that officials had prepared to receive in the program’s first month. The surge of applications has not been greater due to applicants’ concerns about the cost, what they must disclose, and who will be the next president. According to Laura Lichter, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, “these applications are not something you would be ready to go with in one day. They take a fair amount of work. And we have to be sure people understand the risks they are taking.”
However, at the current rate, at least 200,000 immigrants may have applied by the time of the November presidential election, thousands of whom will have already received deferrals and work permits. The attention garnered by the program and the number of youths it has already reached has bolstered the Obama campaign, with Democrats mentioning the initiative repeatedly during their convention last week.