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MPI Estimates 93% of DACA Enrollees Eligible for Renewal Have Re-Applied; New Brief Offers Latest U.S., State & County Estimates

Press Release
Thursday, August 11, 2016

MPI Estimates 93% of DACA Enrollees Eligible for Renewal Have Re-Applied; New Brief Offers Latest U.S., State & County Estimates

WASHINGTON — Ninety-three percent of the unauthorized immigrants participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program who are eligible to apply for renewal have done so, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) reports in a new issue brief that examines the deferred action program as its fourth anniversary nears.

Since its launch on August 15, 2012, the DACA program has provided temporary relief from deportation and eligibility for work authorization to more than 728,000 young unauthorized immigrants, representing around half—if not more—of the population MPI estimates is eligible to participate.

Drawing upon a unique methodology that assigns legal status to the foreign born in U.S. Census Bureau population surveys and permits analysis of key sociodemographic characteristics, DACA at Four: Participation in the Deferred Action Program and Impacts on Recipients offers the latest MPI estimates of populations potentially eligible for DACA; presents trends in application rates nationwide and by state, as well as by top countries of origin; and examines the impacts that DACA has had on its recipients.

Using the most current, 2014 Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) data and aging forward those who since have reached the minimum age required to apply for DACA, MPI estimates that 1.3 million young adults ages 15 and older were immediately eligible for DACA as of 2016. This number includes about 250,000 youth who have aged into eligibility since the program’s launch. Comparing these estimates against application data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which reflect nearly 820,000 applications, MPI estimates that 63 percent of the immediately eligible population (those meeting all the criteria that could be modeled in the data) had applied for DACA as of March 31.

MPI estimates that an additional 398,000 unauthorized youth meet all DACA criteria except for high school completion or school enrollment. These youth can qualify if they enroll in an adult education program (a development that cannot be modeled using Census data). Adding that group to the 1.3 million immediately eligible raises the potentially eligible population to 1.7 million—and as a result lowers the initial application rate to 48 percent. MPI estimates that 228,000 children ages 7 – 14 could become eligible for DACA in the future.

The vast majority of DACA recipients are applying for renewal. MPI estimates 581,000 of the 728,000 recipients of an initial two-year DACA grant have been in the program long enough to apply for renewal, with 539,000 of them doing so to date—a 93 percent renewal rate.

“At its four-year mark, DACA is a large-scale program that has succeeded in attracting broad participation and providing life-altering benefits to many unauthorized youth—as evidenced by the fact that 93 percent of those eligible to apply for renewal have done so,” said brief co-author Faye Hipsman, an MPI policy analyst.

“Still, almost half a million DACA-eligible individuals had not applied as of March 31, 2016, and several hundred thousand more could qualify if they enroll in an adult education program, suggesting that further outreach by service providers could broaden DACA’s reach,” said Randy Capps, who is director of research for U.S. programs.

Among the other findings:

  • The DACA-eligible are concentrated in a small number of states, with California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois accounting for 59 percent of the 1.7 million who are currently potentially eligible to apply.
  • Unauthorized youth from Mexico and Central America, along with Peru, have the highest application rates by country of origin. Mexicans, for example, account for 63 percent of the immediately eligible population but 78 percent of applications as of March. Application rates are generally very low for youth born in Asia, with China not even among the top 25 countries for which USCIS reported application data.
  • The states with the highest application rates, exceeding 75 percent for the immediately eligible—Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon and Texas—are all Western states with a predominantly Mexican-born DACA-eligible population. By contrast states with the lowest application rates (below 50 percent) for the immediately eligible— Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and Florida—have more diverse unauthorized populations, with Mexicans and Central Americans in the minority.

Read the brief here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/daca-four-participation-deferred-action-program-and-impacts-recipients

For updated DACA data at U.S., state and county levels, as well as application rates by top countries of origin, check out these updated MPI DACA tools: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca-profiles.

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The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. For more, visit www.migrationpolicy.org.