7:14PM EDT October 12. 2012 - The Obama administration has granted 4,591 young undocumented immigrants a two-year deportation reprieve under a new program created two months ago, according to statistics released by the Department of Homeland Security on Friday.
The administration began receiving applications for the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program in August, and they have since taken in 179,794 applications, according to the Department of Homeland Security. They have scheduled 158,408 of those for biometric appointments, where officials will take applicants’ fingerprints to conduct criminal background checks.
Up to 1.7 million young undocumented immigrants could qualify for the program, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
No applicants have been officially denied yet. But DHS has sent 1,825 applicants that don’t appear to qualify a “Notice of Intent to Deny” form, which gives them 30 days to provide more evidence or correct mistakes, or a “Request for Evidence,” which gives them 84 days to fill in gaps in their application.
Under the program, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. before their 16th birthday, who are currently in school, have graduated high school or have served in the military, and have a clean criminal record can receive a two-year deferment of their deportation. They can also apply for a work permit during that period. After the two years, they can reapply for another two-year deferment.
The program has been criticized by some, including House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, for inviting fraud by moving too quickly, for its timing — starting just three months before the November elections — and for granting work permits to undocumented immigrants when unemployment remains high in the USA.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told the Denver Post earlier this month he would honor any deferments approved by the Obama administration, but would then push for a comprehensive immigration law that would address all undocumented immigrants living in the country.
President Obama has called the program “the right thing to do.” The president has pushed Congress to pass the Dream Act, which would grant legal status to young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. When that failed, Obama used his executive authority to start the deferred deportation program for that population of young undocumented immigrants, known as DREAMers.