According to the Migration Policy Institute, 1.76 million (as opposed to an earlier prediction of 1.39 million) people may be eligible for deferred action in light of USCIS’s announcement on Friday that non-students and those lacking a high school or GED diploma are still eligible for the program if they enroll in school before August 15th. MPI cites that “350,000 young adult undocumented immigrants could be eligible for relief from deportation under this strategy.”
Although guidelines for eligibility publicized last week are well-detailed, questions remain regarding how 1.76 million applications will be processed in a program that will utilize few additional resources. The $465 application fee will be crucial to hiring additional necessary staff, but the program will remain constrained by its current budget. USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday that “the decision about whether or not to defer action in response to a request is an individualized decision.” Applicants will be judged by the “totality” of their record as USCIS continues to update its guidelines in the coming months.
Despite uncertainty about the guidelines and execution of the program, the immigration advocacy community is out in full force, working to mobilize undocumented youths to apply for deferred action. Meanwhile employers are looking for assurances of protection from employer sanctions from the government, as their provision of documentation proving applicants’ residency will be critical in the screening process.