U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has assigned more immigration officers to help eliminate the backlog of DACA applications. The DACA program was restored by court order in December 2020. According to information sent to Congress by USCIS, as of May 31, USCIS had only adjudicated 1,900 of more than 62,000 first-time DACA applications submitted by undocumented immigrant teenagers and young adults since the program in December.
On July 16, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the government’s continued administration of DACA and the reimplementation. The Court, however, temporarily stayed its order vacating the DACA memorandum and its injunction with regard to individuals who obtained DACA on or before July 16, 2021, including those with renewal requests. DHS will also continue to accept new DACA applications but will not grant them while the current court order is in effect.
DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program launched during the Obama administration in 2012 to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation. USCIS interim director Tracy Renaud said the agency is “working hard to process applications in a timely manner.”
USCIS data shows that from January through March nearly 50,000 people submitted first-time DACA applications, but only 763 — or 1.5% — were approved. Immigration advocates say that prior to the Trump administration’s closure of DACA in 2017 it only took 1 month to receive an approval letter, while now it’s taking five to six months for first-time DACA applicants to receive an approval letter.
USCIS told Congress that the DACA application processing backlog was due to a combination of factors, including:
• Biometric appointments were limited for a period of time due to necessary COVID-19 protocols
• a “technical problem” that had delayed the validation of government-issued “alien registration numbers” for DACA applicants
• “insufficient staffing levels due to fiscal challenges”
• staff training or retraining time
USCIS told congress they have expedited DACA application processing time by fixing technical issues, changing biometric procedures and assigning more staff to address the backlog. USCIS also told Congress that it will also begin a public awareness campaign to educate prospective DACA applicants about how they can reduce processing times, according to CBS news.
An experienced DACA lawyer can explain the new policy developments around U.S. immigration laws and how they might affect your and your family’s situation. Knowledge of the legal system is a powerful tool to protect people from deportation. To discuss your situation, call 630-912-0322 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced DACA attorneys today.
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