Up to 1.7 million unauthorized immigrants ages 30 and under who arrived in the U.S. as children could potentially qualify for a new Obama administration program that goes into effect tomorrow that would shield them from deportation for two years and enable them to apply for temporary but renewable work permits, according to updated estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
Announced on June 15 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the new program, known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” potentially provides relief from deportation for eligible unauthorized immigrants. According to the updated eligibility guidelines published by DHS on August 3, unauthorized immigrants ages 15 to 30 who arrived in the U.S. before age 16 may qualify for deferred action if:
- They have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007;
- They were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
- They are enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military or Coast Guard by the time of their application;
- And they have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor offense, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not present a threat to national security or public safety.
The new Pew Hispanic Center estimate of 1.7 million potential beneficiaries is an increase over the estimated 1.4 million potentially eligible unauthorized immigrants previously reported by the Center. As a result of the updated eligibility guidelines, as many as 320,000 more unauthorized immigrants may be eventually eligible for relief from deportation. These additional potential beneficiaries are unauthorized immigrants ages 16 to 30 who came to the U.S. as children, currently do not have a high school diploma and are not enrolled in school. If these young people enroll in school by the date of their application, they could become eligible for relief from deportation.
Under the updated guidelines, the Pew Hispanic analysis also finds that as many as 950,000 unauthorized immigrants may be immediately eligible for deportation relief. Another 770,000 not currently eligible for deferred action may become eligible in the future.
Among the 1.7 million young unauthorized immigrants eligible for the administration’s new program, 85% are Hispanic. That is higher than the Hispanic share (77%) among the nation’s estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants.
Not all unauthorized immigrants ages 30 and under are eligible for deferred deportation action under the new program. According to the Pew Hispanic analysis, some 2.4 million meet the program’s age requirement, but arrived in the U.S. after age 15 or have been here less than five years, making them ineligible. An additional 280,000 unauthorized immigrants are under age 15 but would not be eligible since they have not been in the U.S. for at least five years, the program’s cutoff residency requirement.
The deferred action policy also excludes any unauthorized immigrants under age 16 who arrive in the U.S. after June 15, 2012. These new arrivals do not qualify for deferred action and unlike some, cannot age into eligibility.
There are an estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., according to estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center. They include 4.4 million who are ages 30 and under. An additional 6.8 million unauthorized immigrants ages 31 and older, who make up more than 60% of the nation’s 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants, are not addressed by the deferred action program.
The report, “Up to 1.7 Million Unauthorized Immigrant Youth May Benefit from New Deportation Rules,” authored by Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer, Pew Hispanic Center and Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director, Pew Hispanic Center, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center’s website, www.pewhispanic.org.
The Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, is a nonpartisan, non-advocacy research organization based in Washington, D.C. and is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.