Only 2.1 percent of ‘DREAMers’ Denied Work Permits in DHS Reviews

Low denial rate may indicate lack of thorough screening of DREAM applications


Of the cases reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), only 2.1 percent of young illegal aliens have been denied work permits through its deferred action program.

Figures released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) show that of the 465,033 cases reviewed, only 9,578 have been denied. Work permits have been granted to 455,455 individuals.

The government has also collected over $200 million from the program through fees. Young undocumented immigrants are required to pay a $465 fee in the application process, meaning those approved have paid $211,786,575.

Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, said denying such a low number of applicants is concerning.

“The low denial rate suggests that applications are not being thoroughly screened,” Vaughn told the Washington Free Beacon. “The program rules were designed to make it easy for people to claim eligibility. Applicants can submit un-provable affidavits or easily forged documents to establish eligibility.”

“Whistleblowers have reported that the officials who adjudicate the applications are under pressure to approve as many as possible as quickly as possible,” she said. “It’s practically an honor system.”

According to the guidelines, USCIS is supposed to screen applicants for their criminal history, review the application for fraud, and determine if they are a threat to national security. If issues arise, the agency may request additional information from the applicant, or request an interview.

“Please note that not every application/applicant will require an interview,” they said.

The Obama administration announced last year that it would not deport children brought to the United States illegally. The policy is a bureaucratically imposed version of the DREAM Act, which would have given citizenship to young illegal aliens but failed to pass Congress in December 2010.

The USCIS quietly announced on Friday it would also not enforce immigration laws for the relatives of U.S. service members.

“[S]ome active members of the U.S. Armed Services, individuals serving in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and individuals who have previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of their family members in the United States,” the agency said, in its reasoning for the change in policy.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program applies to illegal immigrants brought to the country before they were 16 and who are younger than 30. In order to be eligible, applicants must have lived in the U.S. for 5 years; be in school or the military; and have no felonies, significant misdemeanors, or “pose a threat to national security.”

Those approved receive work permits that last for two years, which can then be renewed.

Vaughn said the program’s requirements are not strong enough. Illegal aliens with a history of criminal behavior, such as false claims to citizenship, identity theft, and immigration fraud, are excused.

“On top of it, those few applicants who are denied are not forced to leave the country,” she said.

“Unless they have committed other serious crimes, they would not be targeted for removal, and they can simply remain as an illegal alien,” Vaughn said. “The information in their files is kept confidential, and may not be shared with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ICE or any other law enforcement agency.”

“No question, the DACA program, in its current form with inadequate screening, rubber-stamping and lack of consequences for failed applicants, presents a national security and public safety risk,” she said.

Elizabeth Harrington   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Elizabeth Harrington is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Elizabeth graduated from Temple University in 2010. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she worked as a staff writer for Her email address is Her Twitter handle is @LizWFB.