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DACA acceptance rate soars in December and January

The Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals continues to be taken advantage of by droves of immigrants, according to newly released data from government officials.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services unveiled data that is the latest indication of how favorably the DACA program has been received by immigrants, many of whom have been able to continue to work and send money overseas to their families without having to deal with the obstacles that typically accompany the visa and green card process. In December alone, 47,331 DACA applications were received. Of these, just 1,600 were rejected. This means the overall acceptance rate was 96 percent.

The rate of acceptance was even more favorable in January. Through the first half of the month, 17,100 were received and a mere 600 were declined – another 96 percent acceptance rate.

As in previous reports, the overwhelming majority of the applications received were from immigrants originating in Latin America. To date, DACA applications from Mexico total slightly more than 290,000. El Salvador finished a distant second at 16,824, followed by Honduras, Guatemala and Peru. Of the top 10 countries, eight of them were located in Latin America, with the Philippines and South Korea being the others.

DACA recipients are “lawfully present”
In other news related to DACA, the White House recently updated a USCIS definition for what “lawfully present” signifies. This means that henceforth, DACA recipients are to be considered as lawfully present to reside within the United States as it pertains to federal immigration law.

“An individual who has received deferred action is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect,” the updated rule states.

Prior to this revised ruling, many states were able to deny unauthorized immigrants certain privileges because the “lawfully present” status wasn’t fully clarified. However, with the altered definition in place, it could have lasting effects on what undocumented immigrants may be eligible to obtain.

This includes driver’s licenses. Over the past several months, many states have announced that many unauthorized immigrants – particularly those who were DACA recipients – are now permitted to obtain a driver’s license. The latest state to make this pronouncement is Connecticut. California and Illinois are among the others that have already taken steps toward this policy being put into place. Some states have refused to make driver’s licenses available to DACA recipients, including Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan.

Immigration advocates say that the revised lawfully present statute should help support the notion that beneficiaries of the DACA are driver’s license-eligible.

It appears as though the states that make these licenses available to undocumented immigrants help improve traffic safety conditions. According to a recent study conducted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, unlicensed drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly car accident versus those who are licensed to drive.

Think Progress, a nonpartisan organization funded by the Center for American Progress, says that providing licenses to DACA recipients who are old enough to drive may help reduce car crash fatalities and lower auto insurance rates, as accidents caused by uninsured drivers have to be paid by someone.

There are a variety of requirements undocumented immigrants have to be able to satisfy in order to be considered for deferred action. Recently USCIS produced a web video that explains what the process entails. This can be found by visiting its website.

Helpful links:

USCIS – Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process video

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