More illegal immigrants could be eligible for Obama’s deportation reprieve than we thought

June 21, 2012

How many illegal immigrants could benefit from Obama's new immigration policy? The Migration Policy Center estimates that as many as 1.4 million may qualify for deportation relief, mostly residing in California and Texas. That's significantly higher than the figure that the White House has given: The administration says that more than 800,000 young illegal immigrants could be eligible for the temporary, two-year reprieve from deportation.


Migration Policy Institute

The Department of Homeland Security didn't have further comment about the discrepancy or the agency's methodology.

By either measure, however, the number of illegal immigrants who officially receive the two-year reprieve is likely to be significantly smaller. As MPI points out, there are major logistical hurdles that could slow down the process. As I explained last week, Obama's new policy isn't a blanket get-out-of-deportation free card: Applications for relief and work authorizations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, which could tax immigration officials already drowning in an immigration backlog.

Only 2 percent of deportation cases were closed in a seven-month period, according to a recent review, which the Department of Homeland Security has blamed on bureaucratic delays. The labor-intensive process of reviewing the new applications for deportation relief "will only add to the staff workload," MPI points out.


The Washington Post

There are also logistical hurdles on the applicants' end. MPI notes that finding documentation to prove continuous residence in the United States  "will be a challenge for a younger population, many of whom lack bank accounts, rental or mortgage payments, or utility bills." What's more, MPI explains, there are still unanswered questions about what will happen to those who are denied deferred action — whether they will be placed into removal proceedings, travel outside the country, and so forth. Until such issues are clarified, some eligible immigrants will hesitate to take Obama up on his offer.

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