Most immigration programs, save those covered by numerical ceilings, seem to grow over time.
There are more foreign workers each year, the number of illegals (including those posing as asylum seekers) has expanded enormously, and the number of refugees grows, but there is an interesting exception, the DACA program for young illegal arrivals.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a mini-amnesty created without congressional approval by the Obama administration, keeps shrinking, as the remaining participants keep marching toward middle-age and no new enrolments are permitted.
To be eligible for the program one had to be under 31 years old, back in 2012, to have entered the nation illegally while 15 or younger, and to have done so before June 15, 2012. That means that the top age for those in the program is now 42 — fully a generation older than those in their teens.
Initially there were thought to be 1.2 million eligible aliens, but amnesties often are ignored by their potential beneficiaries, and according to a recent Migration Policy Institute report the peak enrolment figure was some 700,000.
We reported in November 2019 that the number had dropped to 653,000 or so, and now MPI says that, as of this spring, there were only 579,000 in the program, a reduction of about 74,000 in a period of three and a half years.
Since the program is frozen as far as new entries are concerned, this means that each month the tally dropped by 1,762, and that in turn means that every day 59 aliens, mostly from Mexico, left the program, or five every two hours.
There are five different ways that one can lose DACA status: one can die (few do because of age); one can leave the U.S. for either one’s country of birth or some third nation, but we suspect that is unusual; one can marry a U.S. citizen and get a green card (the government does not publish numbers on this); one could — and this would be rare — secure the green card as a needed worker (this is not a highly educated population).
The fifth and most obvious path out of the program is to fail to reenlist in it by not obtaining two passport photos, not completing three federal forms, and not paying $495 — which one has to do every two years.
Once the alien has a work permit, a job, and a Social Security number, once he realizes that for all practical purposes there is no enforcement of the immigration law except at the border, he just might conclude that there is little benefit from following this process, and thus he drops out of the program.
There is good reason to believe that these factors will continue to shrink the number of DACA recipients in this country.