Quality of DACA Applications Apparently Falls: Now One in Six Is Denied

By David North on August 13, 2015

According to the latest statistics from USCIS, the denial rate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has risen.

Compared to the early months of the program, when disapproved cases were shown as zero, now about one out of six decided cases results in a denial.

Here are the numbers for approved cases, denials, the totals for both categories combined, and the percentage of denials to the total. Data are for initial fillings, excluding renewals.

Fiscal Year Approvals Denials Total of Approvals
and Denials
of Denials
20121 1,685 0 1,685 0%
2013 471,232 11,113 482,345 2.30%
2014 135,759 21,126 156,885 13.50%
20152 55,931 11,136 67,067 16.60%

Source: USCIS.
1 One quarter.
2Two quarters.

There are three variables at work here and the relative importance of each is not clear, but all must play a role. These are: the quality of the applications (probably the most clearly eligible aliens filed early), the rigor of agency screening (which may have increased as time passed), and the longer time that it takes USCIS to say no, rather than yes. On that last point, in the early days of DACA then-USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas said that DACA denials were reviewed very carefully before the final decision (suggesting approvals came through more quickly). The data for FY 2012 would seem to point in that direction.

Needless to say, the government is not discussing these figures along these lines.

Unfortunately there is a built-in problem with these statistics. While the denials and the approvals shown above relate to the year those decisions were made, some cases were filed in an earlier period. It would be good to have this data for the year of filing, rather than for the year of decision-making, but USCIS does not publish such information.