Wednesday, September 12, 2012
After approximately three weeks of accepting applications from young undocumented immigrants seeking to avoid deportation and get a work permit, ("Dreamers") the government already has approved some of the roughly 72,000 applications the government has received. The Homeland Security Department said Tuesday that a small group of applications has been approved and those immigrants are being notified this week about the decision. The department did not say how many applications had been approved. The first wave of approvals comes months head of DHS' own internal estimates of how long the application process for the administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could take – and less than 60 days before the Nov. 6 elections. According to an internal DHS document obtained by The Associated Press, the department's Citizenship and Immigration Services had estimated that each application could take several months to be completed. "Following a thorough, individualized case review, USCIS has now begun notifying individuals of the determination on their deferral requests," DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said in a statement. He said about 72,000 applications have been received since the program's Aug. 15 start. DHS said background checks, including finger prints checks, are being conducted on each immigrant before an application can be approved. The average wait time for approval is expected to be about four months to six months. Most applications for immigration benefits take several months for to process. In certain circumstances, people can pay extra fees to speed up the process. There currently is no such option for deferred action applications. President Barack Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on June 15 that young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before they turned 16, are 30 or younger, are high school graduates or are in college or have served in the military would be eligible to apply to avoid deportation for up to two years and get a work permit. The immigrants also could not have a serious criminal record. Applicants for deferred deportation must pay a $465 paperwork fee that is expected to cover the cost of processing the work permit and for finger printing. DHS has estimated that as many as 1.04 million immigrants could apply to avoid being deported in the program's first year, with about 890,000 being eligible immediately. According to the DHS document, it could cost between $467 million and $585 million to process applications in the first two years of the program, with revenues from fees estimate at $484 million. That means the cost to the government could range from a gain of $17 million to a loss of more than $101 million.