Few undocumented immigrants in New Jersey apply to stay

Of the undocumented immigrants in New Jersey who are protected from the threat of deportation by President Barack Obama’s executive order, only 43 percent have applied to stay. This is one of the lowest percentages in the country, according to a new report. The executive order enables those who came to the US as minors to remain.

Around 53,000 undocumented immigrants in New Jersey are eligible to apply for protected status but only 23,000 have done so. This is according to the Washington-based research group, Migration Policy Institute. In the top 20 states with the highest number of eligible undocumented immigrants, New Jersey is in equal 15th place with Maryland and Connecticut, beating only Massachusetts, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Sara Cullinane, state director of the Elizabeth-based immigrant help group, Make the Road New Jersey, says that New Jersey has a distinct lack of immigration level services affordable to the average immigrant. This makes it difficult even for those immigrants who do want to apply. Utah is at the top of the list with 90 percent putting in an application, while 63 percent of the 1.3 million eligible immigrants in the US have applied.

The report was published on the anniversary of the 2012 executive order, which created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Of the 728,000 undocumented immigrants the program enabled to stay and work in the US, there were 16,303 in New Jersey needing to renew their status, which was done by 14,977.