Is the DACA Initiative Worth the Expenses?

Applicants interested in applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative will be able to do so starting August 15, and recently a forum was held by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) to discuss details of how the initiative will function. It is expected that about 1.2 million young undocumented immigrants will qualify for DACA. The initiative will allow successful applicants to avoid deportation for two years and will allow them to obtain an Employment Authorization Document to work legally in the US. The status granted under DACA will be renewable, allowing qualified candidates to stay in the US beyond the initial 2 years.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative is designed for those who were brought illegally into the US as young children and who do not have immigrant status as a result. Those who qualify for DACA are those who are under 30 years of age and have a GED, diploma, or military service. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements to qualify for the program.

One of the questions raised about DACA is what the cost to the taxpayer will be. According to the USIS, the initiative will not cost taxpayer dollars. Those who are seeking to apply for DACA will need to pay an application fee, which will cover the costs of processing the applications. In addition, DACA is expected to provide work authorization to qualified and skilled workers already in the US – which may strengthen the economy.  Those who apply for DACA will be avoiding deportation, and the high cost of deportation is covered by taxpayer dollars. In addition, those who qualify for DACA will receive work authorization to work legally in the US, which means that they will pay income taxes and insurance to their employers, like all authorized employees, and this may also help save taxpayer money.

According to the Associated Press, the USCIS is expected a huge influx of applications for DACA once applications start to be accepted on August 15. The same source reports that applications will require 1400 workers and $585 million to process. The application fee for DACA will be $465, so if all potential applicants were to apply this would result in over $800 million in revenues, which would cover the costs of the program. It is not yet known how many qualified candidates will apply for DACA, but it is known that a limited number of applicants may have fees partially waived if paying the fees causes undue hardship.