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Arizona Leads Nation in DACA Sign-up Percentage

PHOTO: The number of Arizonans applying for temporary legal status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is the highest in the nation, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Photo courtesy New York State Office for New Americans.
PHOTO: The number of Arizonans applying for temporary legal status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is the highest in the nation, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Photo courtesy New York State Office for New Americans.
August 11, 2014

PHOENIX – Arizona leads the nation for its percentage of applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, according to a new study by the Migration Policy Institute.

DACA can provide temporary legal status for some undocumented immigrants.

Jeanne Batalova is senior policy analyst at the institute, the group that examined DACA two years after its launch.

She says 66 percent, or 23,000, of the 34,000 people eligible in Arizona have applied for the program, and the majority of them have been approved.

"To date, 22,656 applications were accepted, and of them 19,990 were approved," Batalova points out.

President Barack Obama created the program by executive order in 2012, allowing some undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to get a driver's license and become eligible for employment if they meet certain requirements.

Those include being in the U.S. since before age 16, having no criminal history, and being currently enrolled in school or having graduated high school.

Nationally, Batalova says more than a half million people have been accepted for the DACA program, which she stresses was meant to help young people who were brought to the U.S. through no fault of their own.

"DACA is specifically for children who were brought to the United States by their parents and made this transition, made this migration, without contributing to the decision,” she explains. “So, not of will of their own."

A person can hold DACA status for two years and then must apply for renewal.

Batalova says nationally, at least 80 percent of DACA applicants are accepted.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates more than 1.6 million people in the U.S. are potentially eligible for DACA status.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ