With more than 1.3 million unauthorized immigrants under the age of 30 now able to seek relief from deportation under the Obama administration's new policy, the federal agency that oversees immigration matters faces big challenges in implementing a program of such scale, says the Migration Policy Institute.
MPI, which has done extensive analysis on what the impacts of the long-stalled DREAM Act would be, estimates that roughly 800,000 children school-age children could benefit from the policy shift, along with nearly 600,000 youth under the age of 30 who have high school degrees, a GED, or some college.
The new policy directive gives Department of Homeland Security personnel the discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to defer removal proceedings for unauthorized youth under the age of 30 who:
• Were younger than 16 when they entered the United States;
• Have resided in the country for at least five years;
• Are currently in school, have graduated from high school or have a GED, or are honorably discharged from the military, and
• Have not been convicted of a felony or major misdemeanor offenses, or pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Individuals who qualify can have their removal proceedings deferred for two years—with the chance for extending that—and apply for work authorization.
Undocumented immigrants who are 15 and older and meet that criteria are being asked to present themselves to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, which already processes more than 5 million applications every year, according to MPI. This will no doubt strain the agency's capacity. Homeland Security also will have to mount a large-scale outreach campaign in Spanish and other languages to spread the word on the new policy and how young immigrants can apply.
MPI has also provided a state-by-state breakdown of where the bulk of the beneficiaries live:
New York 90,000
New Jersey 60,000