After President Barack Obama bypassed Congress last year and, by executive fiat, instituted the deferred action program for some illegal immigrants, the Department of Homeland Security has since approved over 80% of applicants for the program.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 474,000 of 580,000 illegal immigrants who have applied for the two-year temporary work visas have been granted “deferred action,” which means 81.72% of applicants have been successful.
Illegal immigrants who arrived in the country before their 16th birthday and are under 30 years of age can apply for the temporary work permit if they meet other qualifications. Applicants must have resided in the country for at least five years and not have committed any felonies. The work permits can be renewed after two years.
Maria Odom, the ombudsman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the Obama administration is trying to “fundamentally change how we approach the challenge of building a stronger, more effective, and more just immigration system.”
“At DHS, we take our immigration responsibilities seriously and the ombudsman’s office plays a key role in assisting thousands of individuals and employers each year who experience challenges in the processing of their immigration case,” she wrote. “When it comes to immigration, we are working hard at DHS to strike the right balance between smart enforcement, the sensible use of agency discretion, and a more just and fair immigration system.”
On the one-year anniversary of the program, Obama declared its success. And as Obama has pressured Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, House Republicans are considering passing a limited version of the so-called DREAM Act. Amnesty advocates like Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) have pressured Obama to again enact a deferred action program for all of the country’s illegal immigrants if Congress does not enact immigration reform, which immigration reform advocates have called “Plan B.” Obama, though, has shown restraint on the issue, saying on multiple occasions that he would not do so because it would “very difficult to defend legally.”