Biden administration assigns more staff to review DACA applications as backlog soars
July 13, 2021
The Biden administration is assigning more immigration officers to review applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deportation relief program in response to a soaring backlog of requests, according to information sent to Congress and shared with CBS News.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told Congress that it will also stage public awareness campaigns to educate prospective DACA applicants about how they can reduce processing times, and remind program beneficiaries to renew their work permits and deportation deferrals, congressional officials said.
As of May 31, USCIS had only adjudicated 1,900 of more than 62,000 first-time DACA applications submitted by undocumented immigrant teenagers and young adults since the program reopened in December 2020, according to government data shared with Congress.
By the end of June, the backlog of pending first-time DACA applications had jumped to over 81,000 petitions, a 48% increase from late March. Additionally, more than 13,000 DACA renewal requests remained under review beyond the 120-day adjudication goal.
The significant delays in the adjudication of applications has alarmed DACA recipients and first-time applicants, who fear the Obama-era program could be closed once again due to a looming federal court ruling. The state of Texas has asked a federal judge to immediately suspend the program or to shut it down completely over two years.
In a letter last week to Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who had expressed concerns about the delays in DACA processing, USCIS interim director Tracy Renaud said the agency was “working hard to process applications in a timely manner.”