Since President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program took off on August 15, 2012, over 72,000 people have applied. Although officials predicted that it could take several months for USCIS to process any applications received, as of September 10, 2012 – three weeks since applications became available – he first deferrals have already been issued, and work permits should be issued in the coming weeks.
Despite the fact that the program has taken off, there have not been as many applications as officials first predicted. Advocates and lawyers claim that this is because significant time is needed to acquire documents that prove these young people’s continuous presence in the United States for the past five years. Other documents, such as passports, birth records, utility bills, and school records, are also needed to prove that the applicant entered the United States before he/she was sixteen-years-old, was 30 or under on June 15, 2012, was still in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, has no significant criminal record, and is currently enrolled in school or possesses a high school diploma or GED certificate. Other people are taking the time to consult their families, informing their parents and siblings of the benefits and risks of the program. “These applications are not something you would be ready to go with in one day. They take a fair amount of work. And we have to be sure people understand the risks they are taking,” Laura Lichter, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association stated.
So far, the largest number of applications received has come from California, followed by Texas, New York, Florida, and New Jersey. As more eligible people hear about the program and the success of approved applicants, consult their lawyers, and prepare documentation, USCIS expects more applications will be submitted.