Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Study Profiles Deferred Action Applicants

More than half a million young immigrants who moved to the United States as children have applied for “deferred action” from the federal government since the program was created a year ago.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program gives certain undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before age 16 a temporary reprieve from deportation and work authorization. When President Obama announced its creation, estimates placed the number of eligible youth somewhere around 900,000.

Between August 15, 2012 and June 30, 2013 the government has received 557,412 applications. Of those, about 3.5 percent were rejected because they were not complete. Among the applications accepted, almost 75 percent were approved, one percent were denied and the remainder are pending.

Using a Freedom of Information Act request, researchers from the Brookings Institution were able to glean further information about the demographic profile of the applicants.

“If we think about what they’ve done in their lives and how they’ve spent their time in this country, the fact is that they’ve been part of the American school system,” said Audrey Singer, co-author of the report, told The New York Times. “This is one of the big things that makes them American.”

The FOIA data covers the 465,509 applicants between August 15, 2012 and March 22, 2013.  About 57 percent of applications through that time period had been approved. Brookings also has state-specific information on applicants.

Some of the key findings include:

  • About 75 percent of applicants were born in Mexico. The next highest country was El Salvador, with 4 percent.
  • The states with more than 25,000 applicants were California, Texas, and New York.
  • The states with among the nation’s fastest growing immigrant populations — North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia — had between 15,000 and 17,000 applicants.
  • The most common age of arrival in the United States for applicants was age eight. Nearly one-third were five years old or younger and two-thirds were 10 years old or younger when they arrived.
  • Nearly three-quarters of applicants have been in the U.S. for at least a decade.
  • More than one-third of applicants are between the ages of 15 and 18.