Obama Will Not Expand DACA

President Obama said, on Spanish-language network Telemundo, that he would not expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to adult immigrants without status. “If we start broadening that,” he said, “then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that’s not an option.”

The DACA program, established by the Department of Homeland Security, temporarily suspends deportation for certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and provides authorization to work. Senior Fellow Audrey Singer and Nicole Prchal Svajlenka recently analyzed over 465,000 DACA applications over a seven-month period to provide a snapshot of into the size, demographics, geographic distribution, age, and year of arrival of DACA applicants.

Their findings, detailed in a report and data charts, include:

  1. More than half a million people applied for DACA through June 2013; 72 percent were approved, while just 1 percent were denied. 
  2. The vast majority of applicants were born in Mexico, and 25 other countries of birth had over 1,000 applications.
  3. The distribution of DACA applicants by state mirrors settlement patterns of all immigrants; applicants from East Coast states come from a more diverse set of origin countries.
  4. More than one-third of DACA applicants were between 15 and 18. There are fairly even numbers of women and men, but female applicants are slightly older than males. Applicants tend to be younger in newer destination states.
  5. Nearly three-quarters of DACA applicants have lived in the United States for at least ten years and nearly one-third were age five or younger at arrival.

While the DACA program has no announced end date for applications, eligibility requirements are age- and time-specific, and future presidents may end the program. President Obama said the path to immigration reform goes through Congress. “Right now, everybody should be focused on making sure that that bill that’s already passed out of the Senate hits the floor of the House of Representatives.”

The president’s appearance on Telemundo can be watched here.