99.5% of Illegal Immigrants Get Approval for Legal Status; High Number Raises Concerns About Fraud

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, April 22, 2013

The administration has approved 99.5 percent of applications of those who have applied for legal status under President Obama’s nondeportation policy for young adults, granting legal status to more than 250,000 formerly illegal immigrants.

Officials said they expect the approval rate to drop as more cases make their way through the system, as it takes longer to deny an application than to approve it. Indeed, the approval rate already has dropped from 99.8 percent just a month ago.

But the high rate leaves others wondering whether the administration is doing all it can to weed out fraud or potentially dangerous illegal immigrants in DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as it’s formally known.

“You really have to wonder who they’re giving deferred action to, and what kind of risk they represent to us,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. “The screening process is much less for DACA than it would be for a green card, and so it’s all that much more susceptible to fraud.”

DACA is seen by many as a test-run should Congress pass a broad legalization for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.

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The policy applies to illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before age 16 and who were not yet 31 when the program was announced.

Illegal immigrants with serious criminal records aren’t supposed to qualify. To be eligible, applicants must have graduated from high school or earned an equivalency degree or served in the military.

Through the first 7 months of the program, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved 268,316 illegal immigrants for tentative legal status, while denying just 1,377 applications.

A Homeland Security official said the denials will tick up as time passes. Those whom the department plans to reject are given time to submit more evidence or appeal their denial, while approvals go through immediately.

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