(CNSNews.com) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says that over the past year the Obama Administration has exercised what she calls “prosecutorial discretion” in allowing 430,000 self-declared illegal aliens to stay in the United States without any worry that her department—which is charged by law with enforcing the immigration law—will take action against them.
Napolitano calls this non-enforcement of the law “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA). Under the program, the administration considers anyone who had not yet turned sixteen when they first entered the United States illegally, or first overstayed a visa, to be a “childhood arrival.”
“Because of the action we have undertaken through the DACA process, thousands of hardworking young people who are American in every way but a piece of paper now have the ability to continue their educations and contribute to their communities,” Napolitano said in a written statement marking the first anniversary of the program, which began accepting applications from illegal aliens on Aug. 15, 2012.
“In just its first year, over 500,000 individuals have requested Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and after a thorough review of each of those cases, including a background check, 430,000 requests have already been approved, with others still under review,” Napolitano said.
The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service released new data on the DACA program on the same day Napolitano made her statement. The data said that as of the end of July DHS had received 573,404 DACA applications. Of these it had accepted 552,918 for review, and rejected 20,486 before reviewing them.
As of the end of July, DHS said it had completed its review of 437,686 of the 552,918 applications it had accepted for review--approving 430,236 of them and denying 7,450.
That means of the DACA applications it has reviewed so far, DHS has approved 98.3 percent and rejected 1.7 percent.
“Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified in DACA cases,” Napolitano said in her statement. “And, by removing the threat of deportation for people brought to the country as children, we have been able to continue to focus our enforcement efforts on serious criminals, public safety threats, and those who pose a danger to national security.”
Under the DACA “prosecutorial discretion” program, an illegal alien who has been in the United States since at least June 15, 2007, and who came to the United States before his or her sixteenth birthday, and has not yet turned 31, and is either currently in school, or has earned a high school diploma or GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran can be granted “deferred action” and allowed to stay in the United States.
DHS says it will not consider a person for DACA if they have been "convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or three or more other misdemeanor offenses not occurring on the same date and not arising out of the same act." DHS also says it will put applicants through a background check that involves "checking biographic and biometric information provided by the individuals against a variety of databases maintained by DHS and other federal government agencies."
When the administration grants an illegal alien deferred action, says the Department of Homeland Security, the illegal alien becomes “eligible to receive employment authorization.”
A report published by the Brookings Institution on Aug. 14 noted that there were 936,000 aliens estimated to be eligible for the DACA program at the time it was announced in 2012. An Aug. 15 report in the National Journal, citing the Brookings Institution report, said that about 400,000 DACA applicants had been approved in the first year of the program. In fact, as of the end of June, according to the USCIS, 400,562 DACA applications had been approved. The same day the National Journal published its story, USCIS released new data showing that through July 430,236 DACA applications had been approved.