Nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants have taken advantage of the deferred deportation program President Barack Obama created in 2012. So when President Trump announced Tuesday he would end it in six months if Congress doesn't take action, it was widely reported that nearly 800,000 lives were in the balance.
Not so fast.
New statistics from the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday revealed that about 690,000 immigrants are enrolled in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and could face deportation if and when their work permits expire.
The most recent data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services show that 787,580 people had been granted DACA status from August 2012, when the program began, through March 2017. Those eligible for the program have lived in the country illegally since they were children, a group known as “dreamers.”
Agency officials said that the reason for the discrepancy is that more than 100,000 participants in DACA since 2012 have had their status lapse or change. That includes 39,514 immigrants who became legal permanent residents and no longer needed DACA, including 1,056 who went on to become U.S. citizens.
Other former DACA recipients left the United States permanently, chose not to seek renewals of their two-year work permits or were unable to come up with the $495 renewal fees, the officials said.
DHS statistics show that a relatively small number of people — 2,139 — have had their DACA status revoked or terminated by the agency since 2012. Under the rules of the program, those who commit crimes or fail to show they are working or going to school can have their permits discontinued.
Meanwhile, Trump sowed confusion Thursday morning when he inaccurately tweeted that no current DACA recipient should fear that they could face immigration enforcement action over the next six months.
In fact, DHS has said that those whose work permits expire through March 5, 2018, must apply for a renewal by Oct. 5 or have their permits expire and expose themselves to potential deportation.
“If you're a DACA recipient and your status is set to expire in December and you don’t take advantage of the renewal window, there’s nothing we can do about that,” DHS spokesman David Lapan said.
The agency is not accepting new applications but has said it will continue to process all applications, including renewals, received before Tuesday's announcement. There were 106,341 requests pending as of Aug. 20, the agency said — 34,487 initial requests and 71,854 renewals.
Approximately 154,000 DACA recipients are due to have their permits expire from now through March 5, the agency said.