Will USCIS be Able to Effectively Process the Flood of Deferred Action Applications?
Yesterday, Immigration Law Weekly made a very good point regarding the ability of USCIS to process potentially 1,000,000 deferred action applications of potential DREAM Act candidates or DREAMers. Here is the point that ILW raises:
“According to official sources, USCIS processes about five million applications every year, including I-130, I-140, I-145, and N-400 petitions. To process all these applications, USCIS has a staff of 18,000 members. In order to process the one million deferred action requests of eligible undocumented youth, USCIS would need to increase its staff by at least 3,000 members to complete processing in one year. How does USCIS find this additional capacity when the agency most likely does not have the authority to raise fees?”
ILW suggests that the Department allow 12,000 CBP and TSA agents and 8,000 Coast Guard resrve members to assist USCIS in processing the applications. I think that this would be unprecedented and likely will not happen. A more realistic possibility would be for USCIS to hire more staff (this in itself can take several months at least) and adopt measures similar to when it received large numbers of Temporary Protected Status applications from Central Americans more than a decade ago. If the applicant is facially eligible, USCIS can issue a preliminary approval while it continues to investigate the application. If it later finds that the applicant may not be eligible, then it can revoke the deferred action.
I have met with several DREAMers already who just graduated from high school this past month and have hopes of attending college or working to pay for college this fall, which the grant of deferred action would allow them to do. I just hope that the administration does not crush their hopes due to the government not being able to process these applications fast enough.