MPI Report: More than Half of Unauthorized Immigrant Youth Who Met DACA Eligibility Criteria Had Applied for Deportation Relief as of Mid-July
New MPI Online Data Tool Offers National and State DACA Profiles
WASHINGTON — Fifty-five percent of the 1.2 million unauthorized immigrant youth who met the criteria for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program at its launch in 2012 had applied for relief from deportation as of July 20, 2014, according to a Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report released today.
As the second anniversary of the DACA program approaches, a new analysis by MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy provides the most up-to-date estimates of the current and prospective DACA population, nationally and for 15 states. The report, DACA at the Two-Year Mark: A National and State Profile of Youth Eligible and Applying for Deferred Action, finds wide variation in application rates across states and national-origin groups. MPI today also launched an online data tool, with DACA population estimates for the United States and 41 states, with more detailed profiles for 25 states and the nation.
The report finds that slightly more than 2.1 million unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children are potentially eligible for DACA—with 1.2 million having immediately met the age, education, length of residence and other criteria when the initiative launched in 2012. Two other groups could prospectively gain DACA status: 426,000 youth who appeared to fulfill all but the education requirements as of the program’s launch, and 473,000 who were too young to apply but become eligible once they reach age 15 if they stay in school or obtain a high school degree or equivalent.
Using an innovative methodology to analyze U.S. Census data, the report assesses the size of immediately and prospectively eligible populations and offers estimates on educational attainment, English proficiency, age, gender, labor force participation and poverty for the DACA-eligible population. The report also offers estimates on the DACA application rate nationally and by state, using the most recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services application data.
“This analysis provides a mixed picture of DACA’s first two years,” said MPI President Michael Fix. “On the one hand, the sheer volume of applicants is impressive. On the other, hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth have not yet gained a status that can change their lives in measurable ways, allowing them improved job prospects, the ability to apply for driver’s licenses and more.”
DACA, which was implemented on August 15, 2012, offers work authorization as well as a two-year reprieve from deportation for eligible unauthorized immigrants who entered the United States before the age of 16; meet length of residence, education and other requirements; and were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. USCIS data provided to MPI show that the agency had accepted 681,189 applications for processing as of July 20, 2014, and 587,366 individuals had been granted deferred action. And USCIS had accepted nearly 25,000 renewal applications between June 5, when it posted the renewal guidelines, and July 20.
Among MPI’s other key findings:
- Eligible youth were most likely to apply for the program in Arizona (66 percent), Texas (64 percent), Nevada and Colorado (61 percent) and North Carolina (59 percent). They were least likely to apply in Massachusetts and New Jersey (37 percent), Virginia (38 percent), Florida (39 percent) and Maryland (41 percent).
- Compared to their share among the total DACA-eligible population, Latin American youth were more likely to apply, while Asian youth were less likely to do so. Mexicans who represent 65 percent of all immediately eligible DACA youth, had a 62 percent application rate as of March 31, ranking behind Hondurans (68 percent) and ahead of Peruvians (61 percent). By contrast, just 24 percent of immediately eligible Koreans, 26 percent of Filipinos and 28 percent of Indians had applied by that date.
- 80,000 to 90,000 unauthorized youth will age into DACA eligibility in 2014 and 2015, after which the numbers will begin to decline until the last group reaches 15 in 2022.
- Older youth were less likely to apply than their younger counterparts, with just 33 percent of those ages 25 and over among the immediately eligible having applied, compared to 53 percent in the 15-19 age group.
- Immediately eligible youth have strong English skills, with 8 percent speaking only English at home and 63 percent being bilingual.
- Nearly three-quarters of youth meeting all but the education requirements were engaged in the civilian labor force, compared to 53 percent of immediately eligible youth. They differed substantially from the immediately eligible cohort in other ways: they were more likely to be older, to have lower English proficiency and to struggle financially.
Recognizing the fluidity of a population that can move into eligibility by completing educational requirements as well as limitations of Census data to capture enrollment in adult basic education, the report provides alternate scenarios for calculating application rates. Using a more expansive definition that takes into account all potential DACA beneficiaries over age 15 (those currently meeting all criteria and those who appeared to meet all but the education criteria as of DACA’s launch), MPI estimates that only 41 percent of this population of 1.7 million had applied as of July 20, 2014.
“Our research makes clear that there is a substantial number of youth who are potentially eligible for DACA but have limited English proficiency and comparatively few years of secondary education,” said Margie McHugh, Director of MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “For many, access to adult education programs, including English as a Second Language and basic skills instruction, is critical to meeting DACA’s education requirements.”
The report can be downloaded at https://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/daca-two-year-mark-national-and-state-profile-youth-eligible-and-applying-deferred-action.
Access the new online data tool, with DACA population data for 41 states and more detailed profiles for the United States and 25 states at: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca-profiles.
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The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C. 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. MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy is a crossroads for elected officials, researchers, state and local agency managers, grassroots leaders and activists, local service providers and others who seek to understand and respond to the challenges and opportunities today’s high rates of immigration create in local communities. For more on the Center’s work, visit www.migrationpolicy.org/integration.