The Best Time to Apply for DACA Is Now


If you have been waiting to apply for President Obama’s new program for DREAMers, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, now is the time to apply.

So far, nearly a third of a million young undocumented immigrants have filed applications for DACA, but an estimated 1 million have not yet applied. In interviews, people who have not applied gave several reasons for holding back. The most common was uncertainty about the future of the program.

This worry was understandable before the election. Mitt Romney had said that he would end DACA when he became president. That reason for not applying is no longer valid. President Obama has said that he will not only continue to accept DACA applications, but that he will also renew the program every two years. That means that applicants approved this year will likely be able to stay work-authorized until at least 2017.

The other good news is that the Department of Homeland Security is moving faster than we ever imagined in approving DACA applications and issuing work authorizations. When the program originally started, Homeland Security said it would likely not approve any applications until mid-November and that work authorizations would be issued several months after approval. Instead of that slow processing time, Homeland Security has already approved nearly 55,000 applications and they are issuing work authorizations at the same time as the approvals. Most people who applied in August and early September have already received their work authorizations.

Every week, we at CARECEN hear from people we helped apply for DACA who have received their work authorizations. If you have been waiting to apply, you should wait no longer. Join the 20,000 other immigrants from New York State who have already applied.

CARECEN is offering free workshops to help you get ready to apply for DACA. Call CARECEN at 516-489-8330 (Nassau) or 631-273-8721 (Suffolk) to find out when the next workshop is. Here are workshops that are already scheduled for our office at 91 N. Franklin St. Room 208 in Hempstead:

Tuesday, November 27 (Hempstead) at 3:30 PM
Tuesday, December 4 (Hempstead) at 3:30 PM

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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