WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, CMC – The United States says 179,794 applications have been received, and 4,591 have been approved two months after it started giving reprieves from deportation and work permits to young illegal Caribbean and immigrants.
The US Department of Homeland Security said the number of approvals increased significantly since it reported on September 14 that 29 immigrants had been the first ones granted the two-year deportation deferrals.
Peter Boogaard, a department spokesman, said immigrants should now expect that the average time to process an application to be four to six months, stating that as many as 1.2 million immigrants could be eligible.
Observers say the intense activity around the program in immigrant communities, especially among Latinos, has already yielded some political benefits to Obama, with Democrats repeatedly highlighting the initiative during their recent convention.
Initiated by an executive action, the program grants deportation deferrals that must be renewed after two years, but it does not provide any legal immigration status.
To be eligible for the deportation reprieve, illegal immigrants must be under 31 years old and have come to the United States before they were 16.
They must show that they have lived in the US continuously since June 15, 2007, and be currently in school or have earned a high school diploma or have been honorably discharged from the US Armed Forces.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonpartisan research group, as many as 1.2 million illegal immigrants could be immediately eligible for the program.
“If somebody submits documents that show by the preponderance of the evidence that they meet the guidelines, we are poised to move the cases as quickly as possible,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the immigration agency that falls under the purview of the US Department of Homeland Security.