On Friday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that nearly 180,000 people have applied for the Obama Administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which spares qualifying illegal immigrants from deportation and allows them to apply for a work permit. The USCIS said so far 4,500 young illegal immigrants have been approved for the program.
The Obama Administration announced the program in June and the USCIS began accepting applications Aug. 15. Since then, young immigrants throughout South Carolina and the rest of the nation who were brought into the country illegally as children have rushed to gather the necessary documents to apply.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security said that no applicants had been denied as of yet, but it could take up to two months after an application is received for it to be denied. Additionally, officials said the processing time for the applications will likely slow over the next several months.
When the program was announced, the Obama Administration made clear that Deferred Action would not pave the way to citizenship or provide work permits lasting longer than two years. However, there is no limit on how many times Deferred Action status can be renewed every two years.
Here are some of the other requirements for the program:
- Applicants must prove they are between the ages of 15 and 31.
- Applicants must prove that they arrived in the country before they were 16.
- Applicants must prove that they have lived in the United States continuously for at least the past five years.
- Applicants must be free of serious criminal convictions or not otherwise pose a threat to society.
- Applicants must be enrolled in or have completed high school, a GED program or have served in the U.S. military.
For many, this is an opportunity to live and work in the United States without the looming fear of deportation. The program was intended to offer some of the same benefits as the DREAM Act, which has stalled in the legislature for several years.
Source: MySanAntonio, "About 4,500 immigrants spared deportation," Alicia A. Calwell, Oct. 15, 2012