USCIS releases new DACA statistics as first-time applicants gear up for 2021
By any measure, the last few years have been challenging for immigration advocates, including the many who support the so-called “dreamers” – young undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country when they were children.
Throughout his term in office, President Trump has repeatedly attempted to terminate and/or drastically diminish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era initiative which provides both temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to qualified applicants. Several lawsuits and court decisions forced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to continue processing DACA renewal applications, but first-time applicants have been barred from applying since September of 2017.
But, in the waning days of 2020, a beacon of hope emerged when after several court battles, DHS finally relented, restoring DACA to its original 2012 state, and once again allowing first-time applications. And pursuant to a court order, DHS has just released new DACA statistics which reveal that over 2,700 initial (i.e., first-time) DACA applications were filed by applicants from November 14 through December 31, 2020. And of those, 174 were approved, 121 denied, 369 were rejected, and the rest remain pending.
Meanwhile DHS, also provided the court with statistics showing that the agency had rejected 4,383 initial DACA applications filed on or after a July 28, 2020 DHS memo by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. The so-called Wolf memo, which was issued after the US Supreme Court held that DHS’ termination of DACA was invalid, called for a full review of DACA while also curtailing the program even further by disallowing most advance parole applications and shortening DACA renewal and work authorization period from two years to one year.
By some estimates, 300,000 or more dreamers are now eligible to apply for DACA for the first time, including over 55,000 who have “aged into” eligibility over the last three years.
Given the pent up demand, immigration practitioners and advocates should consider how they can effectively and efficiently assist new applicants in filing first-time DACA cases as soon as possible.
Below are a few “best practices” from one of our clients who filed over 1,000 DACA requests during a 3-month period with the assistance of the LawLogix Edge application.
- Host DACA “Information Sessions” to help establish relationships with prospective DACA applicants and their parents. These sessions are a great way to answer questions and provide updates on this quickly-developing topic.
- Utilize a DACA-specific intake form to capture pertinent information from potential applicants, while also enabling the secure upload of required documents needed for the submission. Ideally, your intake should reside on your website or through social media (where applicants can easily find it).
- To ensure that applicants complete those intakes, practitioners should strongly consider using a “mobile-optimized” platform, which provides multiple methods for access, including full support for mobile phones, tablets, laptops or PCs. Practitioners can incorporate this intake into their consultation process to capture client information to help in the decision-making process for each applicant.
- Manage the entire DACA process with software, ideally using a system that automatically populates the required forms and allows you to track (i.e., check-off) required activities as they are completed.
- Keep detailed reports of DACA activity, showing the number of applicants, conversion of consults to actual cases, case completion times, and even client demographics such as gender and education level (which can be very useful data for nonprofit grant applications).
- Ensure you have a robust “service delivery system” in place that keeps your DACA client informed at all times, ideally through an online portal where they can see the latest information about their case.
Most importantly, practitioners should strongly consider filing eligible DACA applications as soon as possible – especially in light of a pending case in Texas that threatens the DACA program again.
LawLogix is closely monitoring this evolving story, with a particular focus on ensuring that our clients can quickly (and efficiently) prepare DACA renewals using the Edge immigration case management system. Stay tuned for more updates!