The Department of Homeland Security announced last week that a small group of Deferred Action applications has been approved. Since the application process became available on August 15, approximately 72,000 applications have been submitted, a much smaller number than anticipated. With free clinics and workshops offering legal advice and application assistance, why have so few of the more than 1.7 million eligible applicants actually applied? While there are a number of potential reasons for the low application numbers, there seem to be two main issues causing potential DACA applicants to delay their applications:
1. The upcoming election
Should Mitt Romney become our next president, he has suggested that he will reverse the Deferred Action initiative. Uncertainty over what will then happen to the beneficiaries of Deferred Action, their families, and individuals who have submitted applications has deterred a number of potential applicants from applying.
2. Fear of divulging information
In applying for Deferred Action, individuals must provide information to the US Government, including personal information, information about their families, and any and all Social Security Numbers and identities used during their time in the US. Failing to provide this information or lying about it on application forms is considered fraud. USCIS has promised not to turn individuals over to ICE unless they pose a threat to national security, but they have yet to answer other questions, such as what will happen to individuals who admit to using fake identities or Social Security numbers.
With many questions still unanswered and many rules still undefined, many are hesitant to take advantage of Deferred Action. For those who are concerned, it may be advisable to wait to submit an application until USCIS has provided further clarification on the initiative’s grey areas.