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Why are DREAMers not applying for DACA?

When President Barack Obama announced the DACA program, I believed the huge numbers trumpeted by immigrant advocacy groups (all the way up to 1.7 millions).  While there were valid concerns if Mitt Romney were to be elected president, when Obama was reelected, I expected that there would be a surge in applications.  To my surprise, the data shows that DREAMers are simply not applying.  I have already argued that it is much better to apply for DACA even if you are very optimistic that DREAM and/or Achieve Act will pass.  The simple rationale is that if you are deported before any amnesty is provided to DREAMers, it does not matter what happens.  Having a DACA approval will not only allow you to stay in the country, work legally, but also allow you to avail of any immigration reforms that might pass during the coming years.

Well, this mystery seems to have been solved by Weber State University.  According to a survey conducted by them, the undocumented immigrants who seem to be applying are teenagers (ages 16 to 19).  The older applicants are simply not applying.  There are some in their early 20s but very few older than 25, even though, you can be up to 31 years old.

Why are older illegal immigrants not applying for DACA?  As evidenced by huge number of illegal immigrants who have been using fake Social Security numbers to work, apparently the older you are, the greater is the probability that you have broken US laws.  While the USCIS is ignoring at this time if you have assumed another person's identity, it does not mean that you cannot be prosecuted for Social Security number fraud or identity theft at a later time or simply denied any real immigration benefit in the future.  By applying for DACA, many illegal immigrants will have to voluntarily confess to breaking the law.  For instance, all those applicants who have provided W-2 forms or letters from their employers as evidence that they have been in the country have set up traps for themselves by admitting to several crimes.

The Weber research also found that while teenagers who are applying are in high-school (a valid eligibility) many older DREAMers who dropped out of high school are not eligible.  And no surprise here but they found that the longer you have lived, higher the possibility that you have broken the law.  It maybe added that if you have a criminal background and you apply for DACA, you just make the task of ICE easy for deporting you.

So how many DREAMers will benefit from DREAM Act It is something that we will find out only when the law is passed.  If the law has minimum education requirements (criminal record will definitely be a factor and felonies are going to be a problem, but how many misdemeanors are allowed may make a difference) we will see a lot of DREAMers excluded.  It will also be interesting to see how Congress will treat unauthorized employment and if Congress decides to follow American laws literally, the number of eligible immigrants will be a lot lower than many immigrant rights groups currently estimate.