Almost one month after young undocumented immigrants began applying for deferred action, federal immigration officials announced that about 72,000 DREAM Act-eligible young adults have applied so far. The new policy, which President Obama announced in June, gives undocumented immigrants who qualify two-year deportation deferrals and permits to legally work in the U.S.
Officials in the Department of Homeland Security have worked quickly to process applications as they have poured in, with California leading in the number of applications from undocumented immigrants in that state. The largest portion of deferred action applicants were born in Mexico, but immigration officials said a large number also came from South Koreans, who make up a much smaller population of immigrants in the U.S.
Republicans, however, are renewing their attacks against the program. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) questioned “the speed at which the deferrals are being granted” in a letter to John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on Tuesday and back in August, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an informal immigration adviser to Mitt Romney, filed a lawsuit challenging the policy. Kobach is representing 10 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees who disagree with the directive. “It places ICE agents in an untenable position where their political superiors are ordering them to violate federal law,” Kobach said.
Mitt Romney has not explained if he would continue the deferred action policy as president — although one of his advisers said Romney would end it — but at this rate, the New York Times estimates that at least 200,000 people potentially could have applied for deferred action by the presidential election in November.