Approximately 72,000 illegal aliens have applied for amnesty under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications on August 15th. The agency approved a stay of deportation for the first batch of applicants on September 10th.
"Following a thorough, individualized case review, USCIS has now begun notifying individuals of the determination on their deferral requests," said DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard.
Since USCIS must evaluate the materials applicants submit and subject the illegal aliens to background checks (including fingerprinting) before granting the deportation amnesty, this is considered speedy processing. USCIS, which is not known for brisk efficiency, had suggested that it would take 3-6 months to fully process an application.
According to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, the agency has been issuing receipts for applications within 48 hours after they were logged in. “If somebody submits documents that show by the preponderance of the evidence that they meet the guidelines, we are poised to move the cases as quickly as possible,” Mr. Mayorkas said. Fingerprints and photographs, which are needed for background checks, are being taken within three weeks after receipt of an application.
The first completed applications reached decision makers on Sept. 10th and final approval for deferred action was given that afternoon. Some illegal aliens received immediate notification by text message. The first work permits, which are approved in a separate but parallel process, should be issued in a few weeks.
Rep. Lamar Smith (Tex.), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, commented on the quick turnaround: "It's astounding that the president's administration can move so quickly to grant work authorization to illegal immigrants yet his jobs council hasn't met in over eight months to find solutions to put unemployed Americans back to work. Such a quick turnaround for these amnesty applications raises serious concerns about fraud and a lack of thorough background checks. President Obama and his administration continue to put illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of the American people."
Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) also commented on the speedy processing in a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton: "The speed at which the deferrals are being granted continues to raise severe concerns about fraud and the administration's ability to verify items like age of entry, educational status and even current age. But the bigger issue is that the administration has effectively nullified existing federal law with the stroke of a pen. Moreover, it is a pure fiction that its non-enforcement policy is limited to those theoretically eligible for DREAM."
As many as 1.7 million illegal aliens under the age of 31 could apply for DACA, which closely mirrors the failed DREAM Act. Applicants must pay a $465 paperwork fee that USCIS hopes will cover the cost of processing the work permit and fingerprint collection.
USCIS was prepared to handle as many as 250,000 applications in the first month so the numbers submitted belie expectations. Still, at this rate, over 200,000 illegal aliens could be in the pipeline by election day. California is leading in applications, followed by Texas, New York, Florida and New Jersey.