The Migration Policy Institute has increased their estimate of the number of unauthorized immigrants who may be eligible for temporary relief from the threat of deportation under the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. After taking a look at the more detailed eligibility guidelines released by the Department of Homeland Security on August 3rd, they now think that as many as 1.76 million unauthorized immigrants may be eligible (up from 1.39 million).
The DACA initiative will offer, on a case-by-case basis, a two-year grant of reprieve from deportation as well as work authorization for unauthorized immigrants who were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, who entered the U.S. as children, and who can demonstrate that they meet certain other criteria, which you can read about here.
What changed? Among the list of eligibility requirements first released in June, when the policy was announced, was the requirement that applicants had to have a high school degree or have earned a GED—or be enrolled in school now. Last week, DHS clarified that those under 31 years of age lacking a high school diploma or a GED not currently enrolled in school will also be eligible, as long as they have re-enrolled by the date of their application. MPI estimates that this adds as many as 350,000 unauthorized young adult immigrants (ages 16 and older) without a high school degree or GED to the list of potential beneficiaries of this program, provided they meet the rest of the eligibility requirements.
It will be interesting to see if this results in an uptick in demand for GED and adult ESL services in the coming months.
UPDATE 8/28/12: While researching a post for D.C. LEARNs today, I read through the DACA guidelines a little more carefully. As noted above, to meet the DACA education requirements, an applicant must have graduated from high school or obtained a GED certificate, or must be “currently in school” on the date of application. The USCIS guidelines published here make it clear that their definition of “school” is fairly broad and includes most kinds of adult education programs. I’m planning to write a separate post about this in the near future.
UPDATE 8/29/12: This article from New America Media (NAM) notes that in Arizona, Proposition 300 bars state-funded schools from offering free GED classes to undocumented immigrants, so meeting the educational requirements of DACA by enrolling in a free GED program will not be an option for those living in that state.
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