Immigration Friendly Attitudes at the Local Level in Cities

Around the country, many cities are embracing immigrants new to their communities and promoting integration.  The oftentimes-negative rhetoric concerning immigration policy relating to  the inaction of Congress does not necessarily influence the immigration-friendly attitudes at the local level. These newcomers are indeed adapting and becoming consumers, business owners, homeowners, etc. and contributing their purchasing power, which is helping the local economies grow.

Cities with more favorable outlooks towards immigration include Ohio cities of Cincinnati, Springfield, Dayton and Columbus as well as big city centers like Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis and Atlanta.  In Cincinnati for example, Mayor Cranley proclaimed, “This is a country of immigrants, and this is a place where immigration is rewarded and thanked.”  This is the sentiment of the “melting pot” that so many value about the United States.  Cincinnati’s task force is concentrating on the following:  economic development, community resources, education and talent retention, international relationships, and rights and safety.

The favorable outlook towards immigration at the local level is not simply out of a sense of goodwill; local leaders are seeing the economic and developmental value immigrants have for their communities.  The more welcoming approach shared by some American cities should serve as an example towards redefining our national public policy.

But is it easier to promote these values of integration at a local level where the issue of national security may not necessarily be felt as strongly?  The realities of local communities and the public policy of a nation may have drastically different concerns to confront.  Yet what is important to note in these immigration friendly cities, is that action is being taken.  Community leaders are taking in migrants, celebrating different cultures and integrating them into their constituency.  As we wait for immigration reform to become a reality, these communities are at least offering a welcoming atmosphere.

In addition to the economic development achieved in more inclusive communities, local leaders are recognizing the importance of offering a welcoming atmosphere to unaccompanied migrants.  Many see this as a basic duty in a nation seeking to promote civil and human rights.   These unaccompanied child migrants are fleeing devastating circumstances in their home countries to make the treacherous journey to the unknown, which they can only hope will offer them peace and security.  As these children wait for their cases to be adjudicated, they are left vulnerable.  Local leaders are responding to their constituents who want these unaccompanied minors welcomed and cared for.  They seek to provide these basic rights as best as they can to the migrants while Congress continues to stall at improving a flawed immigration system.

We need to recognize that immigration is beneficial to the country as a whole, and enriches the nation’s cultural identity, grows the economy and ensures global competitiveness. These local governments are realizing that they don’t have to wait on Congress to start policies that promote an inclusive culture and community.  While we wait on comprehensive immigration reform, the strides being made across the nation at the local level to benefit the economy cannot be ignored and should be applauded.

Immigration as Primary National Security Concern or Should Humanitarian Concerns Prevail?

Helena's FirstA recent Rasmussen Report showed that U.S. voters rate the current immigration crisis as a greater national security problem than Russia and the situation in Gaza with Palestinians and Israelis.  Thirty-seven percent (37%) of likely U.S. voters saw immigration as the primary concern, thirty-one percent (31%) for Russia and twenty-three percent (23%) for Gaza.

All three issues are at critical points of concern on the global scale currently.  The renewed fighting in Gaza has brought much attention to a conflict some had forgotten and others never fully understood.  Now, social media and a younger generation of the U.S. population are getting involved and bringing awareness to the injustices.  The annexation of Crimea in March and Putin’s current support for rebels in Eastern Ukraine have severely called into question any lasting alliance with Russia.  Russia had been a strategic partner; key to resolving conflicts in Iran, Syria and other critical conflict areas so the United States needs to evaluate how it will manage in the long-term without this working relationship.

But what does it mean to have immigration at the top of our national security concerns compared to these crises?  The Pew Research Center shows a 117% increase in the number of unaccompanied children ages 12 and younger caught at the U.S.-Mexico border during this fiscal year.  These numbers have tripled in less than a year.  At the end of July 2014 most recent figures had shown this included more than 57, 525 children.  Not taking into account the adults that are also still crossing the border in large amounts, these are record numbers of unaccompanied children.

It is humanitarian crisis of epic proportions for our nation for several reasons.  These people are escaping thriving crime and poverty in their home countries.  Once here, the sheer numbers overwhelm the U.S. Border Control and the resources allocated have been unrealistically inadequate to curb the flow of these migrants.  Federal law requires that undocumented immigrant minors from countries other than Mexico (which in most cases mean El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) be detained prior to their appearances in immigration court.  In the interim the United States is required to provide their health care and basic needs before releasing them to relatives or guardians.  Yet, the United States and its present infrastructure is not equipped to handle the current numbers so conditions at the border and at these detention centers are inadequate with the overwhelming capacity.  This is why the current problem is further compounded as the public questions the humanitarian treatment of these underage migrants. They have fled dangerous and squalid conditions and now U.S. facilities and the hopes of a better future for these migrants are also being called into question.

Immigration is rising in opinion polls as a concern relating to national security due to the recent influx of child migrants from Central America.  It is important that it is rising as this may finally elicit the much-needed substantive action from Congress. Illegal immigration and border security have been troubling for years, yet Congress continues to stall on any monumental immigration reform. Oftentimes it is inevitable crisis that ensures action.

Executive Action on Immigration: MPI Offers Estimates of Unauthorized Immigrant Populations that Could Receive Relief

Originally written and posted by the The Migration Policy Institute, which is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. Learn more at www.migrationpolicy.org

WASHINGTON — As the Obama administration contemplates executive action on immigration, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) today released estimates of various groups of unauthorized immigrants that could receive relief from deportation, either via deferred action or further refinement of immigration enforcement priorities.

The brief, Executive Action for Unauthorized Immigrants: Estimates of the Populations that Could Receive Relief, examines scenarios for executive action that have been publicly advanced by members of Congress, immigrant-rights advocates and others, describing scenarios that could be narrowly targeted to just a few tens of thousands of the nation’s estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants or be expansive enough to reach several million.

Using an innovative methodology to analyze the most recent U.S. Census data to determine unauthorized status, MPI examines scenarios for expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that has provided a temporary grant of relief from deportation as well as eligibility for work authorization to more than 587,000 unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children, as well as extension of deferred action to other populations.

With respect to expansion of the DACA program, MPI finds that:

  • Eliminating the current education requirement (high school diploma or equivalent or current enrollment in school) would expand the DACA-eligible population by about 430,000. Last month, MPI estimated that 1.2 million unauthorized immigrant youth met all DACA eligibility criteria at the program’s announcement in June 2012. Eliminating the education requirement would bring the immediately eligible population to nearly 1.7 million.
  • Extending eligibility to those who arrived in the U.S. before age 18 (from the current age 16) would expand the population by about 180,000.
  • Moving forward the length of residence to 2009 (from the current 2007) would add about 50,000 youth.

Beyond DACA, the administration could grant deferred action to new populations. Among the possible criteria that MPI modeled are length of U.S. residence; close family ties to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents or DACA beneficiaries; and/or potential eligibility for a green card as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. Excluding populations already eligible for DACA, MPI estimates that as of 2012:

  • 3 million unauthorized immigrants had lived in the U.S. for 15 years or more, 5.7 million for at least 10 years and 8.5 million for at least five years.
  • 3.5 million were the parents of U.S. citizens under age 18 — with 2.4 million of them having lived in the United States a decade or more. Including parents of children who are green-card holders or DACA recipients raises the total to 3.7 million.
  • 770,000 were the spouses of U.S. citizens. Including the spouses of green-card holders and DACA recipients nearly doubles this group to 1.5 million.
  • 1.3 million had qualifying immediate-relative relationships because they were spouses of U.S. citizens or parents of U.S.-citizen children ages 21 or over, but many are unable to depart the country to apply for a visa without facing years-long bars on their re-entry because of their cumulative unlawful stay.

Beyond deferred action, the Obama administration is said to be considering refinement of immigration enforcement priorities to limit the deportation of certain groups of unauthorized immigrants if they are apprehended by federal immigration authorities. While it is not possible to model future apprehensions and thus predict who might be affected by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement priorities, MPI analyzed 11 years of ICE removals data (for fiscal years 2003-2013) to determine how changes to current enforcement priorities could have affected past deportations, assuming removals were strictly limited to priority cases. Among the findings:

  • Narrowing the definition of “recent illegal entrants” to those apprehended within one year of entering the U.S. (currently the definition is three years) would have reduced removals by 232,000 during 2003-2013.
  • Excluding noncitizens convicted exclusively of traffic offenses (other than DUI) would have resulted in 206,000 fewer removals over the period. Excluding all non-violent crimes would have reduced removals by 433,000.
  • Foregoing deportation of those with outstanding deportation orders more than a decade old would have resulted in 203,000 fewer removals.

“Our work makes clear that the reach of potential changes to expand the DACA program or refine immigration enforcement priorities would be even greater if multiple changes were to be implemented at the same time — for example eliminating the DACA educational requirement and changing the age at arrival criteria,” said Randy Capps, MPI’s director of research for U.S. programs.

Said Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of MPI’s U.S. immigration policy program: “The length of residence required would be key to the scope of any new deferred action program: far fewer individuals would qualify under a program limited to people who arrived 10 or 15 years ago than a program without such limits.”
Read the report at: http://migrationpolicy.org/sites/default/files/publications/Executive-Action-Brief-FINAL.pdf

Increase in Fees by Department of State

State Dept Money

The Department of State has announced that it will change fees for certain types of applications. These fee changes will take effect on September 12, 2014. The most important changes include a reduction in the E Treaty Investor/Treaty Trader fees from $270 to $205 and an increase in the fee for a K Fiancé Visa from $240 to $265.  Other significant changes include an increase in the processing fees for immigrant visa applications for the immediate relative family-based preference (from $230 to $325) and a decrease in the fee for employment-based preference categories (from $405 to $345).

Application fees will be grandfathered for applicants that paid their visa fee before September 12, 2014 and will have their visa interview on or before December 11, 2014. Applicants who paid their fees before September 12, 2014, but with visa appointments after December 12, 2014 will have to pay any increase in fees. There will be no refunds for visa application fees that were paid before September 12, 2014 where the new fee has decreased.

Immigration Court Backlogs Reach All-Time High

Immigration Court Backlog

Due to the recent surge of unaccompanied children migrants the backlog in Immigration Courts has reached an all-time high.  At the end of June the back log totaled 375,503 cases, which is an increase of more than 50,000 since the start of the 2013 fiscal year.  Specifically the number of juvenile cases has increased to 41,600 and more are anticipated every day.   Along with an increase in the backlog, the average wait-time for pending cases has also increased to an average of 587 days.

To view annual backlog trends and the states with the largest backlog per the end of June 2014, see the latest Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) report at: http://trac.syr.edu/imm/snap_backlog 

To view immigration court backlog trends based on location and nationality per the end of June 2014, see TRACs immigration backlog tool at: http://tracfed.syr.edu/cgi-bin/tracuser.pl

Children Facing Imminent Danger will ‘Likely’ Receive Asylum

Unaccompanied Minors

Amid the growing debate over immigration reform, specifically concerning the increasing number of unaccompanied children migrants crossing into the United States, the White House announced that immigrant children who face imminent and mortal danger in their home countries will likely be allowed to remain in the United States.  White House Secretary Josh Earnest stated that these children are entitled to due process and will go through the immigration process thereby allowing immigration judges and asylum officials to make the final determination of whether they face a credible threat of death upon return to their home countries.

If immigration officials do in fact determine that a child faces a clear and credible threat of harm upon return to their home country the judge may ultimately find that the child be granted asylum permitting that child to legally remain in the United States.  Secretary Earnest did mention that the White House is looking for greater authority to more efficiently enforce the current immigration law and expressed the White House’s interest in changing the current immigration laws, but few specifics have been offered concerning details of these changes.

Consular Processing Delays Worldwide

Delays The U.S. State Department’s computer system for processing passport and visa applications crashed this week leading to global delays for travel documents.  Although the system is back on line it is still not operating at full capacity.  The U.S. government does not believe the problems are the result of any outside terrorist or malicious action, although the cause of the problem has not been identified yet.  The problem occurred after routine maintenance, and was worldwide, not confined to any one specific country.  The State Department states it has one of the largest Oracle-based data warehouses in the world.  It has reported that in 2009 the database contained over 100 million visa cases and 75 million photographs, with the addition of approximately 35,000 visa cases every day.  We urge everyone that plans to apply for visas at the U.S. Consulates worldwide to build in extra time for processing due to the current large backlogs.

Countries of Particular Concern

Religious Freedom

In its 15th annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommends that the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list, which tracks and monitors countries with severe violations of religious freedoms, be doubled in size, expanding to include Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and Tajikistan. The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan watchdog panel created by Congress to review conditions of religious freedoms internationally by analyzing the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom and to make policy recommendations “[g]rounded in and informed by the American experience.”

Since 2006, eight countries have been designated on the United States State Department list of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs). The list documents those countries worldwide that engage in clear violations of religious freedoms, and it’s unchanged roster for the past eight years has named Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan. Each of these countries undoubtedly engages in systemic and extreme suppression of religious freedoms, but they are far from the only places to display such a record.

A number of factors influence the appointment of new nations to the CPC list, which defines “severe violations of religious freedom to mean systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, including violations such as:

a) Torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment;

b) Prolonged detention without charges;

c) Causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction or clandestine detention of those persons; or

d) Other flagrant denials of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.

Nations designated as CPC may be subject to further actions, including economic sanctions, by the United States. For this reason, the recommendations made by the USCIRF are delivered to the President and the Secretary of State, who have ultimate jurisdiction controlling whether new states are added to the list.

Over the last 10 years, numerous nations have seen a worsening of their religious freedom climate. Pakistan, according to the USCIRF, “represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the U.S. government as “countries of particular concern.”  In the past year, conditions hit an all-time low due to chronic sectarian violence targeting mostly Shi’a Muslims but also Christians, Ahmadis, and Hindus.

In Turkmenistan, religious freedom violations persist despite a few limited reforms in 2007. Police raids and harassment of registered and unregistered religious groups continue. The repressive 2003 religion law remains in force, causing major difficulties for all religious groups.

Although USCIRF recommended Vietnam for CPC designation in 2004 and 2005, it withdrew the recommendation in 2006 because of progress toward fulfilling a bilateral agreement to release prisoners, banning forced renunciations of faith, and expanding legal protections for religious groups. However, Vietnam continues to imprison individuals for religious activity or religious freedom advocacy, and it uses a specialized religious police force and vague national security laws to suppress independent Buddhist, Protestant, Hoa Hao, and Cao Dai activities and to stop the growth of ethnic minority Protes­tantism and Catholicism via discrimination, violence, and forced renunciations of their faith.

Egypt showed some progress during a turbulent political transition, but the Morsi-era government and the interim government failed to protect religious minorities, particularly Coptic Orthodox Christians, from violence. Discriminatory and repressive laws and policies that restrict freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief remain in place under the new constitution. For example, Egyptian courts continue to prosecute, convict, and imprison Egyptian citizens for blasphemy.

In the past year, the government of Iraq failed to stem egregious violence by non-state actors against Iraqi civilians, including attacks targeting religious pilgrims and worshipers, religious sites, and leaders, as well as individuals for their actual or assumed religious identity. The Iraqi government took actions that increased, rather than reduced, Sunni-Shi’a tensions stemming from the Syrian crisis, threatening the country’s already fragile stability and further exacerbating the poor religious freedom environment. Especially concerning is the draft personal status law that would separately apply to Shi’a Iraqis, which risks further hardening the sectarian divide.

Religious freedom in Syria has been deteriorating dramatically throughout the ongoing conflict between Assad’s regime and anti-government elements seeking his overthrow, subjecting the Syrian people to egregious violations of human rights, including freedom of religion or belief. Government forces and affiliated militias have perpetrated religiously-motivated attacks against Sunni Muslim civilians and members of religious minority communities, and have increased sectarian divides through rhetoric and religiously-motivated violence.

Recurring sectarian violence, attacks and threats against Christians by Boko Haram continue to test Nigeria’s democracy, and the misuse of religion by politicians, religious leaders, and others. Religion and religious identity intertwine with ethnic, political, economic, and social controversies to strain already tense Christian-Muslim relations. While the Nigerian government does not engage in religious persecution, it tolerates severe violations through its failure to bring to justice those responsible for systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations, or to prevent or contain sectarian violence.

Systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom continue in Tajikistan. The government suppresses and punishes all religious activity independent of state control, particularly the activities of Muslims, Protestants, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The government also imprisons individuals on unproven criminal allegations linked to Islamic religious activity and affiliation. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been banned since 2007. There are no legal provisions on conscientious objection to military service.

All of these nations have been recommended for inclusion in previous years, and the State Department, without comment, continually fails to add them to the official CPC list.  Explanations of this course of action include political tensions and the vacancy (since last October) of the office of Ambassador-at-large for religious freedoms. In addition to these countries, USCIRF also recommended the inclusion of 10 “Tier 2” countries, in which religious freedom violations are serious but do not rise to the level of the CPC standard. These countries are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey.

Leon Rodriguez to Become New Head of USCIS

Leon Rodriguez

The US Senate, on Tuesday, June 24, confirmed Leon Rodriguez as the next Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The director is responsible for administering and processing asylum and refugee applications, immigration benefits, and naturalization and visa petitions.

Mr. Rodriguez previously served as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services from 2011 to the present. Much of his work there involved bringing cases against medical and insurance organizations for violations of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act for breaches of patient information.

In 2011, President Obama nominated Rodriguez to lead the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. However, his nomination was withdrawn because of Republican opposition to his work in the Civil Rights Division. From 2010 to 2011, Mr. Rodriguez served as Chief of Staff and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice (DOJ), overseeing the division’s administrative operations and cases involving discrimination based on national origin and immigration status. Mr. Rodriguez also served as County Attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland from 2007 to 2010. During that time, he also worked for President Obama’s Justice Department transition team in 2008 and 2009.

From 2001 to 2007 Mr. Rodriguez was a partner at Ober, Kaler, Grimes, and Shriver in Washington, D.C., again focusing on health care law. He served in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh) from 1997 to 2001, first as Chief of the White Collar Crimes Section from 1998 to 1999 and then as First Assistant U.S. Attorney until his departure. During his tenure at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh, Mr. Rodriguez focused primarily on health care fraud. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Rodriguez was a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division at DOJ from 1994 to 1997 and a Senior Assistant District Attorney at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in New York from 1988 to 1994, where he prosecuted cases including some against members of the Colombo and Genovese crime families.

Rodriguez is married to a physician, Dr. Jill Schwartz. They have two children, Talia and Elias. Rodriguez speaks several foreign languages, including Spanish, French, Hebrew and Italian. The son of small business-owning Cuban immigrants who sought refuge from the Castro regime in the U.S., Rodriguez was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1962, where he lived until moving to Miami at the age of 4 with his parents. Rodriguez received a B.A. from Brown University and a J.D. from Boston College Law School. His grandparents moved from Poland and Turkey to Cuba in the late teens and early 20’s to escape anti-Semitism, giving Mr. Rodriguez a multi-generational personal experience with immigration that will serve him well as the new Director of USCIS.

Mr. Rodriguez has offered tantalizing insights into how, if approved by the Senate, he might tackle the daunting job of USCIS Director, especially in reply to Sen. Grassley’s queries. In written responses to Senator’s queries, he reaffirms his belief in the proper use of prosecutorial discretion and the need to protect internal agency whistleblowers from retaliation, agreeing to meet with union representatives of USICS employees and expressing support for recent USCIS reforms of the EB-5 program. He also stated that in limited situations it is incumbent upon the USICS Director to intervene in a pending case when the “outcome of adjudication is wrong, or when adjudication may present a legal, factual, or policy issue of broad application. Regarding the appointment, Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said: “We are filling vacancies in senior-level positions in this department and injecting a new energy within its leadership.”

Two Years Later: The Impact of DACA

DACA

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program is an Obama Administration initiative implemented to extend rights and benefits to the growing number of undocumented youths and young adults living in the United States. The program allows youths and young adults meeting certain requirements to temporarily defer deportation and receive both eligibility for renewable two-year work permits and temporary Social Security numbers that allow them access to health care and higher education. The program does not provide a path to legalization for these youths, but rather it simply offers them a means to participate constructively in the mainstream American economy, breaking down the barriers to higher education and employment faced by undocumented youths. As of March 2014, 553,197 young people have been approved for the program, although hundreds of thousands of others have not yet chosen to apply. The Washington-based Migration Policy Institute estimates a total of 1.1 million people are eligible for DACA.

To be eligible for DACA, a young person must have arrived in the United States prior to age 16; have resided continuously in the United States without legal status since June 15, 2007; be less than age 31 as of June 15, 2012; and at least age 15 at the time of the application submission (unauthorized immigrants under 15 but in removal proceedings are also eligible to apply). Additionally, eligible applicants must currently be enrolled in school; have graduated high school or obtained a general development certificate (GED); or be an honorably discharged veteran. Finally, applicants are inadmissible who have been convicted of a felony, have multiple or serious misdemeanors, or who pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Prior to DACA, these young people had no alternative but to work illegally in low paying positions with little or no chance for advancement, creating a waste of talent and skill that could be used to improve both their lives and the United States economy. Most live in low-income households with family members, many of whom are undocumented themselves. As with adult immigration trends in recent years, most applicants have relocated from violence and gang-torn regions of Latin America, and they come to the United States in search of safety, and, hopefully, the chance to earn a steady wage.

Since the implementation of DACA on June 15, 2012, almost 700,000 youths have applied to the program, and approximately 72% of them have been approved.  Nearly three-fourths of these come from low-income households, and they have a median age of 22.7 years.  The vast majority of applicants (74.9%) originally hail from Mexico – there are over twenty times as many applicants from Mexico as there are from El Salvador, the second leading nation of origin. Rounding out the leading nations of origin are numerous Latin American nations and a sprinkling of applicants from other parts of the world.

Despite its successes, the program still faces considerable challenges from interest groups within the government, from misinformation about the program, and even from inconsistency in application of the program by officials. Older applicants, especially those living independently from parents, and those not enrolled in school, may have a harder time documenting that they have been living in the United States continuously since 2007. In addition, the more time that has elapsed since their entry, the longer time period they must document residence in the United States. Other potential applicants are discouraged by issues such as whether they qualify under the criteria, lack of funds for the $465 application fee, or lack of educational enrollment. Some potentially eligible individuals may not be aware of their undocumented status, especially younger people. Still others lack correct information about the program. Despite outreach by nonprofits, many lack access to support in filing applications. Further complicating the matter, US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) persistently encourages eligible youths to come forward, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to deport the friends and family of eligible youths – in some cases, it even continues to deport youths who turn out not to be eligible.

For those who do qualify, the outcome of involvement with DACA seems to be mostly positive. Almost 60% of DACA beneficiaries have obtained new jobs since approval, and have been able to increase their income.  Because the new earnings translate into a greater tax base, beneficiaries provide an important boost to the recovering economy.  Intriguingly, 21% of DACA beneficiaries have accepted internships, highlighting the valuable career training that DACA provides to youths.  57% of these youths have obtained drivers licenses, increasingly their mobility while decreasing the number of unlicensed drivers – thus creating safer roads for everyone. 49% have opened their first bank account, and 33% have obtained their first credit card. Also importantly for our crippled health care system, 21% have obtained health insurance at the state level (DACA beneficiaries remain ineligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at the national level). The greatest benefits of DACA seem to be for those who have already received a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college.  These respondents are far more likely than non-DACA peers to obtain jobs following their approval.

In whole, DACA has been a marked success, enriching not only beneficiaries, but also their families, friends, and communities. Community-based organizations, non-profits, legal clinics, religious organizations, and schools have diligently reached out to provide information and assistance to young persons wishing to file DACA applications.  The program provides beneficiaries with not only economic opportunities, but also social and civil opportunities previously beyond their reach.  Despite this, the program remains a partial solution because it offers no path to citizenship for even the most exemplary candidates.  With 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country, providing an efficient and equitable solution to immigration reform remains a crucial challenge.