Friday, September 20, 2013
A new report released today by the Center for American Progress offers a nationwide analysis of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, finding that a year after its implementation, close to 600,000 people have applied, and more than 430,000 people have received the status—a monumental feat.
Nevertheless, the program is not reaching all states and all immigrant groups equally, with Mexican immigrants overrepresented in applications and acceptances, and other groups, particularly Asian immigrants, underrepresented. In an effort to answer critical questions about the success and implementation of DACA—which is seen by many as a trial run for a wider legalization program within immigration reform—the report evaluated the program’s implementation at the national and state levels, providing a wealth of information to understand where DACA applicants come from and where they live in the United States, as well as other information such as the gender and age breakdown of the population. Most crucially, these data open a window to assess just how well the DACA program has been functioning, and where it can be improved.
Some key findings of the report include:
National and state demographics
The rate of implementation varies widely by state, from a low of 22 percent of eligible applicants in Florida to a high of 48.6 percent in Indiana. (Because a portion of the DACA population will not be immediately eligible to apply, individual state implementation rates should not necessarily be viewed as low. Nationally, 53.1 percent of the DACA population is immediately eligible.)
Thirteen states and the District of Columbia—including California and Texas—have implementation rates that are lower than expected.
Applications by country of origin DACA applicants were born in 205 different countries, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Luxembourg and Norway to North Korea. Mexicans are overrepresented in the sample of applicants, while North and Central Americans (excluding Mexico), Europeans, and Asians are underrepresented.
Gender and age
Men are 1.4 times more likely than women to have their applications denied.
The average age of DACA applicants is 20 years old, and older applicants are significantly more likely to be denied than younger applicants.
Mexican applicants are half as likely to be denied DACA as other groups. All other applicants are 1.8 times more likely to be denied than applicants born in Mexico.
The role of immigrant-serving organizations
For every additional immigrant-serving organization, there is an increase of 70 DACA applications. But more organizations does not mean that more people in a given state have applied or been accepted than would be expected.
Explaining the differences in DACA rates
While it is too early to tell why discrepancies in denials exist, factors such as the active role of the Mexican consulate and broader exposure among Spanish-language press than Asian media play a role in the differences among national origins groups and their ultimate application and denial rates.
The high cost of applications may also hinder applicants, particularly those in families with multiple DACA-eligible youth. Both new and traditional media have played a significant role, though the paucity of information about DACA among some ethnic media sources—particularly those targeting Asian immigrants—could play a role in lower rates of applications.
Finally, while “self-deportation” laws like Arizona’s S.B. 1070 seek to make life as difficult as possible for unauthorized immigrants, they have had no impact to dampen enthusiasm among DACA-seekers.