NC Budget and Tax Center

Hundreds-of-thousands have been “DACA-mented” but more work remains

Approximately 573,000   undocumented immigrants have applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress. Three in four—or 430,000—applicants have received deferred action, meaning they have been granted work authorization and temporary relief from deportation. This is a significant accomplishment considering the program was launched last summer. Yet, challenges remain with the implementation in certain states and with building a more diverse pool of applicants.

Second only to Indiana, North Carolina has the highest implementation rate of DACA-approved applications as a share of total estimated DACA-eligible youth (including those not yet eligible). Our implementation rate stands at 45.5 percent but jumps closer to 100 percent when only considering the immediately eligible population. The implementation rates drops to a low of 5.4 percent in Maine and are lower-than-expected in 13 states and the District of Columbia, signaling more outreach is needed in these areas.

DACA applicants—who, on average, are 20 years old—come from all over the world, including from 205 different counties. Some groups are more likely to apply than others, however. Three of every four applicants are from Mexico, and more than 9 in 10 applicants are from Latin America. Whereas Mexicans are turning in more applications than expected, the opposite is occurring for Asians, Europeans and North and Central Americans (excluding Mexicans).  And, women are faring better than men when it comes to having an application approved. The same is true for younger applicants compared to older ones.

All of this suggests that certain demographics require greater outreach and assistance. Meanwhile, we must not forget that the DACA program is allowing thousands of immigrants to work, granting them access—without fear—to social incorporation and the employment networks that can help them make ends meet. With that said, at the end of the day, people who are granted deferred action still face a great deal of uncertainty about their future—they can only live biennium-to-biennium with a reprieve from deportation. It is due time for federal lawmakers to pass reasonable and workable comprehensive immigration reform.

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