Young immigrants blame high fees as deportation deferral applications drop dramatically
Interest in the two-year deferred-deportation program has flagged heavily in recent months, with some immigrants pointing to high application fees as an obstacle to taking part.
Univision News reported on Monday that applications to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative have decreased steadily (PDF) since October 2012, when 117,213 application were turned in, to just 16,778 for the month of March 2013. Overall, 469,530 applications have been turned in for the program, meaning that about 25 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants have attempted to take part in it.
The program, instituted by President Barack Obama in June 2012, was seen as a salve to younger immigrants who were in danger of being deported after the failure of the DREAM Act. It is open to applicants under 30 who were brought to the U.S. before their 16th birthday and requires a $465 fee, on top of legal and scholastic guidelines.
“It was a sacrifice, because it’s almost $500 for an application,” one participant, Betsy García, said of the price of her application. “And there’s four people in my family. So it was a lot of money, but we got it together.”
Despite the decrease in applications, the program still shows a heavy intake rate. Overall, 453,589 — about 96 percent — of DACA petitions have been accepted, giving participants renewable two-year work visas that, in most states, also allow them to get drivers’ licenses.
Recent political negotiations have also diminished interest in DACA, said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, with both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives working on bills to overhaul current immigration policy.
“I think a lot of people are waiting for the chance to get something more permanent,” Vargas said.
Watch Univision’s report on the declining interest in the DACA program, aired Monday, below.
[Image via Univision News]