Over 82,000 DACA Applications Filed
The New York Times reported that more than 82,000 illegal immigrants have applied for a two-year reprieve from deportation in the first 30 working days of an Obama administration program, and 29 have been approved, officials from the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday.
Officials released figures on the deportation deferrals for the second time this week to give a broader public view of what they described as the fast pace of the program. They said 63,000 applicants had already been scheduled to have fingerprints and photographs taken for a criminal background check, the second step in the process.
About 1,600 immigrants have finished providing their biometrics, officials said, and are expected to move quickly to the final step. An officer at the federal agency in charge, Citizenship and Immigration Services, will review the applications and decide whether to grant the deferral, formally known as deferred action.
Officials had originally predicted it could take several months after they began receiving applications on Aug. 15 for the first immigrants to be approved.
Homeland Security officials said they wanted to encourage youths in the country illegally to come forward to apply for deferrals, which protect them from deportation for two years and, in most cases, come with work permits. Obama administration officials said the program was part of an effort to focus enforcement on illegal immigrants with criminal records and to avoid using resources to deport otherwise law-abiding young people who have been here since they were children.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a strong and sensible manner, but they are not designed to be blindly enforced,” said Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. “These young people do not represent a risk to public safety or security.”
Republicans said the immigration agency was rushing the background checks and taking officers away from cases of foreigners who followed the steps to apply through the legal system.
“Such a quick turnaround for these amnesty applications raises serious concerns about fraud and a lack of thorough vetting,” said Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas. “It’s appalling that the administration has diverted resources from approving applications from those who have played by the rules.”
Evelyn Rivera, 24, who was born in Colombia but has been living illegally in the United States since she was 3, said she applied on Aug. 16, the second day of the program. She is scheduled to give fingerprints next week at an agency office in Orlando, Fla., near her home.
“It’s definitely what we were hoping for, everything moving so smooth and fast,” she said.