Immigration Law

MPI Report: DACA Renewal Rate High Despite Obstacles - Law360

Law360, Aug. 11, 2015- "The Migration Policy Institute said Tuesday that three years after the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, 83 percent of eligible applicants have renewed their benefits despite complications that have hampered the program and litigation over its expansion.

The immigration think tank said in its three-year review of the program that the 83 percent number is especially high considering the lack of outreach and information, confusion over the renewal process, and difficulties some face with the $465 application fee.

“The fact that 83 percent of those eligible to renew their DACA benefits are applying to do so demonstrates the high value that recipients place on the DACA program, which has provided life-altering benefits to so many,” Margie McHugh, a policy director at National Center on Immigrant Integration, said in a Tuesday statement.

The institute’s report, titled “DACA at the Three-Year Mark: High Pace of Renewals, But Processing Difficulties Evident,” said that nearly 356,000 out of over 430,000 DACA applicants eligible to renew their benefits did so by March 31.

Overall, nearly half the approximately 1.6 million unauthorized immigrants ages 15 or older who are eligible for the program have applied for DACA protection, the institute estimated.

In light of the difficulties facing DACA, the report underlined that the high renewal rates show the value that beneficiaries put on the program.

The brief noted that there are severe consequences for beneficiaries whose DACA grants expire because of processing delays or failure to file for renewal, including the accrual of unlawful presence should they later apply for permanent legal residence and the possible loss of employment and health insurance.

MPI added that high-profile litigation over President Barack Obama’s November 2014 expansions — which would extend the eligibility period to three years and expand it to include new populations — has further complicated DACA and created additional confusion about the program.

The planned expansions were halted in February, after a federal judge found that implementing one of the new programs would violate the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.

A Fifth Circuit panel is currently considering whether to reverse the block on the new policies after hearing oral arguments in July.

The institute also mentioned that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ recall of some 2,100 three-year grants issued in violation of the February court order could remain a contentious issue in the suit."