Since the Obama administration pushed through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in June of last year, recent statistics reveal that only about half of the eligible candidates in Arizona have applied thus far. The Immigration Policy Center has estimated that around 34,836 people in Arizona would qualify for DACA relief, while U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services has said it accepted applications from 18,449 Arizonans. That makes the percentage of applicants compared those that would be eligible to apply right around 53 percent, below the national average of 59 percent.
Deferred Action provides that U.S.C.I.S. will not pursue deportation proceedings against an individual for two years, and the applicant may reapply multiple times after the two years is up (potentially seeking other forms of legal status in the meantime). Additionally, it provides employment authorization, so it acts as a shield against deportation for young people. Once an eligible applicant turns 16, he or she should consider applying.
The Tucson Sentinel reported on this relatively low percentage of applications in Arizona, and attributed the lag to the cost of the DACA application. The total cost is $465, and certain exemptions apply for chronic poverty, homelessness or disability. However, given the alternative legal costs, potential detention and deportation that can result from future trouble with the law due to not having legal status, this cost is comparatively low.
Many activists are being vocal in encouraging people to vote. "People don't understand what an incredible opportunity DACA is, but it's just not that easy," Laura Lichter, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told the Tucson Sentinel.
Additionally, the numbers of applicants who have been granted DACA protection have been high. In Arizona, 13,674 of the 18,449 that applied have been approved. Nationally, 520,157 have applied, and 365,237 have been approved. Of those that did not succeed in applying, some can be attributed to technical problems with their applications. Importantly, U.S.C.I.S. has stated that it will not seek to deport failed applicants unless they have qualifying criminal histories. Potential applicants should consult an immigration lawyer if they have any doubts.
Please contact the Law Offices of Matthew H. Green for further information of applying for DACA. We have offices in Phoenix and Tucson for your convenience.