A DREAMer at UCLA graduation.
Fabiola Santiago, an undocumented UCLA student with a master's degree in public heath, attends a graduation ceremony for UCLA 'DREAMers' in 2012. Reuters

A new study from the independent Migration Policy Institute released on Monday found that only 49 percent of the young undocumented immigrants eligible for work authorization and a two-year reprieve from deportation procedures under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have actually applied for it. Up to 1.9 million undocumented immigrants could be eligible, estimates the MPI. DACA, which turns one year old on August 15, was put into motion by an executive order from President Barack Obama. But the MPI says that application rates among eligible DREAMers in this first year have varied wildly among different demographics.

For one, the state in which the person lives seems to have a lot to do with whether or not they apply for deferred action. 74 percent of those eligible in North Carolina -- which had the highest application rates -- submitted a request, while New York and Florida came in at the bottom, with 34 percent and 35 percent respectively. New York could see its numbers tick upward next year on the strength of a New York City initiative, passed this July, which will put $18 million over the next two years toward helping young undocumented who were brought to the US illegally as children get workplace authorization and drivers' licenses.

RELATED: Dream 9 To Get Chance To Argue Case Before Immigration Judge

The MPI also points to another main area of differential: the country of origin of eligible DREAMers. Mexicans and Central Americans are very likely to apply - individuals from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras represent 85 percent of applicants as of June 30. But other nationalities aren't so quick to put in their request. Only 16 percent of DREAMers from the Philippines and 14 percent of those from the Dominican Republic have applied.

RELATED: House Judiciary Committee To Hold Meeting On 'Kids Act' For DREAMers

The study bases its conclusions on data from the US Customs and Immigration Services. The MPI says because the USCIS hasn't released any other data on the characteristics of those who applied, it's difficult to say why the other 51 percent of the DACA-eligible population hasn't applied.

"It may be that eligible youth with more formal schooling are more likely to apply than those who are less educated," reads a press release from the MPI, "or that application fees deter low-income youth from applying."

Some of it might have to do with lower educational levels, lower English proficiency and lower incomes. Those three factors, say the study, created "substantial barriers to participation in adult education or career training" for many unauthorized youth who couldn't meet the DACA requirements.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.