In June of 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a statement announcing that certain immigrants could begin to apply for deferred action through a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA). While deferred action is not a type of immigration status, it does give those who qualify permission to remain in the U.S. and apply for employment authorization. You can read more about DACA and its eligibility requirements here.
Since that announcement, young immigrants throughout the country have been applying for the DACA program. Arizona is considered to be “the most successful state in sign-ups” for the DACA program. In Arizona, “66 percent of the 34,000 people immediately eligible for the program have applied. Almost 20,000 already have been approved.”
Recently, azcentral.com posted a story about DACA and how it has impacted those in Arizona. Franko Milan was interviewed for the story. He is a DACA recipient living in Phoenix. He turned in his DACA application only five days after the program began accepting applications. You can read the whole story here.
According to a recent report, the national application average is only 55 percent. Those who are considered to be experts in the field have hypothesized that one reason for the high percentage in Arizona is because of the “state's tough stance towards undocumented immigrants.” They believe that this has “motivated more people to apply for the program.”
The issue of immigration has been a widely debated topic in Arizona for years. There is also a lot of attention on the state when it comes to immigration reform and policies. One example of this was the passage of SB 1070 in the summer of 2010. Michael Fix, the president of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., said that those in Arizona understand all of this and “probably felt it was in their best interest to sign up.” He also thinks that the state's “large Mexican immigrant population and strong network of immigrant advocacy organizations” helped the percentage of applicants to be so high.
As expected, other southern states were also in the top five: Texas (64%), Colorado (61%), Nevada (61%), and North Carolina (59%). Only 15 states were ranked. These 15 had the highest “number of undocumented immigrants eligible for the program.”
The report itself came out at an interesting time. It was set to come out around the same time as the two-year anniversary of the DACA program. However, it also coincided with Republicans proposing eliminating the program altogether. Some Republicans are blaming the DACA program for the increase in unaccompanied minors coming from Central America and attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The White House has come out in disagreement with that theory and has said that it is the violence in these Central American countries that is causing children to flee.
This report from the Migration Policy Institute says that, as of July 20, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) “has accepted 681,189 DACA applications and approved 587,366 of them.”