Obama youth amnesty numbers jump to 1.9 million

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

The estimated number of younger illegal immigrants potentially eligible for the 2012 “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” offered by President Barack Obama has jumped from 800,000 to 1.9 million.

The new estimate of 1.9 million was released Aug. 12, by the D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute, and it is 138 percent larger than the original 800,000 estimate announced in June 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security. The younger illegals are dubbed “Dreamers” by Democrats and sympathetic reporters.

Just over 1 million people are immediately eligible for the temporary amnesty, but only 8,000 have a post-graduate degree, and only 53,000 have a bachelor’s degree, according to the MPI study. In comparison, 20 percent of native-born Americans hold college degrees.

That’s a very different picture of the immigrants’ education qualifications than offered by the president, who has repeatedly touted the educational qualifications of illegal immigrants who arrived the country at a young age.

“Put yourself in their shoes,” Obama said when he announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program during a Rose Garden campaign event in June 2012.

“Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life — studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class — only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak,” he said.

Illegal immigrants who get DACA status get work permits and the legal ability to compete against Americans for jobs during period of declining wages, slow growth and high unemployment. The status last two years, ensuring that it will end for many in 2015, shortly before the 2016 election.

Democrats and some of the GOP candidates eyeing the 2016 presidential race are now pushing an unpopular, large-scale rewrite of immigration law, dubbed a comprehensive immigration bill.

The Senate passed a version in July, which would offer a conditional amnesty to at least 11 million illegal immigrants and increase the inflow of short-term guest workers.

Since 2000, the number of working-age, native-born Americans has increased by 16 million, but the number who hold jobs has declined by 1 million. Roughly 20 million working-age Americans — including many Latinos and African-Americans — are now looking for full or part-time jobs. Millions more are looking for jobs.

According to the MPI statement, 1.09 million people of the estimated 1.9 million currently meet the age and education requirements of the DACA offer. Applicants must be able to claim they are aged between 14 and 31, and hold a graduation certificate from a high school.

Another 392,000 illegal immigrants are younger than 14, postponing their eligibility for the DACA amnesty.

Also, 22 percent, or 423,000, of the younger illegals do not meet the formal education requirements because they’re high school dropouts. These dropouts are not supposed to get the amnesty.

However, officials at two unions for workers in the Department of Homeland Security say top officials have forced employees to minimize the verification of claimants’ documents. Each employee is expected to complete processing of 12 applications per day.

So far, the DHS has rejected very few applicants for the DACA amnesty, and has not explained why the people were rejected.

By April 2013, 472,004 people had applied for the amnesty. The government had approved 268,361 requests, and rejected only 1,377 applications. The rest were awaiting final consideration.

Forty-one percent of applicants live in California, New York, Illinois or New Jersey.

Fifteen percent, or 311,000, were living in Texas, and another 11 percent were living in Florida, Georgia or North Carolina. Roughly 95 percent of the 1.09 million currently eligible people are Latinos. The balance are Asians, chiefly from Korea or the Philippines.

Follow Neil on Twitter