Last week, Homeland Security assured protection of about 1.1 million unauthorized persons but withdrew Obama’s proposed protection of another 3.6 million persons. There are about 11 million unauthorized persons in the country.
The media reported widely that the Secretary of Homeland Security extended the Obama Administration’s protection of unauthorized persons who arrived in the United States as children in recent years. This protection, DACA, was issued on June 15, 2012.
Pew Research reported that more than 750,000 persons have received formal protections under DACA and that about 1.1 million are eligible. This total figure accounts for about 10% of unauthorized persons in the U.S.
However, at the same time the Secretary removed another provision that protected parents of children who were American citizens – DAPA. That provision was created by Homeland Security on November 20, 2014. It was challenged in the courts, which put a hold on the order. The Trump administration cancelled the order.
DAPA applied to an unauthorized person with the children who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, who has been in the country since before 2010, and who is not subject to other priority removal policies, such as relating to persons with criminal records.
The Migration Policy Institute and Urban Institute estimated in early 2016 that DAPA would have covered 3.6 million unauthorized persons – that is, persons with at least one child who is legally able to stay in the country. The report said that “Providing work authorization for these unauthorized immigrant parents could raise the average DAPA family’s income by 10 percent. Despite very high male labor force participation, the poverty rate for DAPA families is 36 percent, compared with 22 percent for all immigrant families, and 14 percent for families with U.S.-born parents.”
DACA and DAPA were cases of “deferred action.” Homeland Security described this type of action in the November, 2014 memorandum as follows:
“Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion by which the Secretary deprioritizes an individual’s case for humanitarian reasons, administrative convenience, or in the interest of the Department’s overall enforcement mission. As an act of prosecutorial discretion, deferred action is legally available so long as it is granted on a
case – by- case basis, and it may be terminated at any time at the agency’s discretion. Deferred action does not confer any form of legal status in this country, much less citizenship; it simply means that, for a specified period of time, an individual is permitted to be lawfully present in the United States. Nor can deferred action itself lead to a green card.”