Why Have Undocumented Youths Stopped Applying For Deferred Action? | St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking

Most consider the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program a successful initiative which brought over 430,000 immigrants out of the shadows. However, new research shows that there has been a dramatic drop in potential applicants falling to 17,962 in May 2013.

Drop in DACA applicants

DACA, the presidential initiative to give temporary legal presence to undocumented youths, has given immigrants the ability to obtain a driver’s license and a work authorization card. Over 116,000 immigrants applied for the popular program by October 2012 alone. New studies show that DACA applicants are not evenly represented in regards to ethnicity, age, gender and geographic lines, which may explain the significant drop. Also, those who are more educated about the program may have already completed their applications while other demographics may require assistance and outreach. The media has played an important role in broadcasting the program’s information in certain ethnic communities.

Several contributing factors to drop in applicants

Age is another significant factor since younger immigrants tend to be more likely to be able to prove continuous residency since 2007 whereas older immigrants who have lived independently may have a difficult time finding documents to prove their residency for that time period. Younger immigrants may also have greater access to immigration lawyers who can help them fill out paperwork. Another factor is to what extent have ethnic groups gone to educate their communities about DACA. Telemundo, the Spanish news media have worked to spread information about DACA and went so far as to sponsor an educational forum that “included a general discussion of the program, as well as smaller break out conversations where immigration attorneys were on hand to answer questions about applications.” The Chinese media, on the other hand, has not really raised awareness to the program and admission rates have significantly suffered. It’s not enough that the program exists if certain communities have a lack of knowledge and are unable to utilize this opportunity for legal status.

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