Obama’s ‘Deffered Action’ and its Costs

President Obama announced an executive order last month which would defer deportation for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants and would give these individuals work authorization for up to two years at a time. Known as the  ‘Request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,’ the policy change has attracted both criticism and praise. Many undocumented immigrants have welcomed the news while some have questioned the motives for the policy change. Obama`s opponents have called the policy change a political move that will not make lasting changes to immigrant status.

The policy change will cost an estimated $100 million but will also add hundreds of thousands of workers to the US economy. It is expected that about a million people will apply to defer deportation in the first year of the policy change. According to CNN, the policy change may help 800,000 to one million young undocumented immigrants avoid deportation.

There is some disagreement about how much the program will cost. Some estimate the costs at $100 million, while others claim that the implementation costs are closer to $585 million. With the application fees charged, some estimate the implementation costs are closer to $467 million.

There is also some confusion about how many people will qualify to stay in the US legally under the policy change. CNN has estimated that up to one million people may be directly affected by the policy change, but other experts claim that half of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US are likely children, so that the possible number of applicants that may qualify for deferral of deportation may in fact be 2.5 million or higher.

Qualified undocumented immigrants will be able to send in applications under the new policy as of August 15. The applications will have a $465 filing fee. The applicants will have no recourse to appeal, so any rejection on an application will be permanent.  If the application is accepted, applicants will have two years of deferred deportation and work authorization to work and live in the US. Applicants will be able to re-apply to extend the benefits.

Some experts say that the cost for individuals applicants is too high, so many who do qualify for the policy will not apply due to the high cost and the only two years of authorized status. As well, under the policy change, many older undocumented immigrants will not qualify for work authorization. Critics say that the policy affects too few in the undocumented immigrant community and offers too short a period of protection – all at a high cost.  Supporters of the policy change note that the changes will make a very real difference in the everyday lives of some undocumented immigrants.