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Hundreds of Young Immigrants Apply for DACA every Day in 2015

The latest numbers from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service show that young people are continuing to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Although prime time for DACA applications was from August of 2012, when the program began, until the following June, in Fiscal Year 2015 there have already been more than 46,000 new applications filed. In addition, 240,000 people who already have DACA filed for renewal in the same period.

The USCIS reports that it is receiving an average of 380 new applications each day for DACA. Of those applying, over 80% have been approved during the last year. Most of those not yet approved are in a backlog. For renewals, the approval rate is above 99%.

The new initial applications for DACA are coming from two different groups of people. The first are immigrants who were eligible to apply in 2012 but who did not do so. In many cases these were individuals who did not know about the program or who did not believe they were eligible. Others said they did not apply because they were afraid to identify themselves to the Citizenship and Immigration Service.  A new outreach effort by the New York Immigration Coalition is spreading the word about DACA to immigrants in more isolated communities like Upstate New York, Eastern Long Island, and Staten Island.

The second group of people who are applying now are teenagers who met all of the requirements to apply for DACA in 2012 except for one: they had not yet reached the age of 15. DACA-eligible young people cannot file for the program until after their 15th birthday. That means that every day that goes by, hundreds of young immigrants become eligible for DACA.

According to the USCIS, these are the eligibility criteria for DACA:

You may request DACA if you:  

    Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;

    Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;

    Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; 

    Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

    Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;

    Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and

    Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor,or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

 Age Guidelines

 Anyone requesting DACA must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. You must also be at least 15 years or older to request DACA, unless you are currently in removal proceedings or have a final removal or voluntary departure order.

Pat Young is an immigration lawyer at CARECEN in Hempstead and Brentwood.

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