The buzz last Friday amongst many practitioners and journalists was the record-breaking number of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival cases that have been received by USCIS. As of October 10, 2012, USCIS has accepted more than nearly 180,000 cases and approved over 4,500 DACA requests. If it’s any indications, we may expect to see monthly status reports from USCIS.
The high number of cases taken in so far by USCIS reveals just how important the DACA process has been for the applicants and their legal representatives. Those seeking legitimate legal assistance can visit our previous link here for guidance on how to select a low-cost attorney or BIA representative. Immigration practitioners will also find that we provide a leading solution tailored specifically to manage the DACA process. Designed for attorneys by attorneys, the EDGE Immigration Management System is the leading solution for smart practitioners. Request a demo here.
The high DACA cases though, reveal a bit more. Although Secretary Napolitano testified back in July 2012 that the cost of managing the DACA caseload would be financed entirely from the filing fees collected from the cases, one can’t help but be confounded by the irony that DACA cases appear to be processed fairly quickly in spite of the backlogs faced by other divisions within USCIS (i.e.: H-1B backlog as of October 10, 2012). If only USCIS could so uniformly apply the same level of efficiency with all their cases….
Alarm from Congress
gripes recommendations aside; it is fairly impressive that USCIS has managed to approve over 4,500 DACA cases to-date, considering the stereotype of the slow-moving government bureaucrat. While many (including yours truly) are impressed, some have shown much cause for alarm. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and House Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) wrote a letter to DHS Secretary Napolitano on October 5, 2012 expressing their concerns that adjudicating officers reviewing DACA cases were “pressured to ‘get to a yes’” in light of the fact that over 87,000 applications had been submitted (at that time) and not one had been denied.
Of greater alarm, the letter continues, is that there is a process by which Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Denials must be reviewed by a supervising officer before being issued. Because officers are subject to production goals, they therefore may elect to approve a marginal case rather than issue an RFE or Denial. The letter quotes several emails from the DHS Inspector General as saying, “Many ISOs said that USCIS leans too heavily toward limiting RFE’s and increasing approvals.” [As an immigration practitioner myself, I’d like to know if the Inspector General is referring to the same agency as the rest of us who are consistently receiving RFEs? Surely he/she must be mistaken!]
Finally, the letter specifically requested more details on how RFEs, Notices of Intent to Deny, and Denials are determined. [This would actually be nice to have.]
If the Congressmen had their way, it appears DACA cases would be slowly adjudicated, and with much more in-depth review than the current level of scrutiny given by USCIS.
Pause from Presidential Candidate
Making even bigger headlines has been the Republican Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney’s confirmation he would end DACA if elected as President. In an interview he gave to the Denver Post, he said:
The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I’m not going to take something that they’ve purchased.
[Never mind that a grant of a two-year work authorization does not constitute a visa.] Mr. Romney did clarify that a grant of DACA would be halted if he were elected but after his taking office January 20, 2013. So, for all the months of speculation, Mr. Romney has finally provided a clear answer.
How would you advise your clients? Apply for DACA now or wait and see? Stay tuned for more updates or sign up for our newsletter.