Deferred Action Policy May Benefit More Immigrants
August 08, 2012

PHOENIX -- As many as 1.26 million immigrants may be eligible for temporary relief from deportation under a new Obama Administration initiative, and another 500,000 more could be eligible in the future, according to revised estimates released by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute on Tuesday.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service will begin accepting applications on Aug. 15 from immigrants who were brought to this country illegally as children and who wish to be considered for deferred action. If they are approved, they will be spared from deportation for two years, and can become eligible for a work permit.

Officials say each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Obama Administration first announced the program June 15. The young people who would benefit are often known as "DREAMers" in reference to the DREAM Act, a stalled federal bill that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants.

Last Friday, USCIS, which is under the Department of Homeland Security, released updated guidelines specifying who would be eligible for the program.

Among the requirements are that applicants must be younger than 31 as of June 15, must have arrived in the U.S. before age 16, must be over the age of 15 if they have not been in deportation proceedings, and must not have a criminal record.

They new guidelines also made clear the program would be open to individuals who haven't graduated high school or received a GED, as long as they are enrolled in a school program.

That distinction prompted the Migration Policy Institute to redo their analysis.

"So with that additional guidance from DHS, that means that our estimates have increased by 350,000 unauthorized immigrants," said Michelle Mittelstadt, communications director for the Migration Policy Institute.

The Institute's analysis also showed that about half of the population that could benefit from the initiative lives in the southwestern United States.

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