Two Years of Working on the Books and Avoiding Deportation

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This Friday marks the second anniversary of an initiative by President Obama that gave some immigrants a reprieve from deportation and temporary work permits.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was extended to unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Carlos Rodriguez, 24, from North Bergen, N.J., said the program allowed him to get his first on-the-books job, and a driver’s license.

“They basically gave me wings to fly, actually to seek what I want to seek and become the person I want to become,” he said.

Rodriguez is among the 44,000 immigrants who received the reprieve in New York and New Jersey over the past two years.

In New York State, half of those who are eligible applied. Margie McHugh, of the non-partisan think tank Migration Policy Institute, which issued a report on DACA last week, said that number is lower than expected, adding many are likely not applying because of the $465 application cost, fear of putting family members at risk and because they don’t feel like they’re under threat of deportation.

“Whether the various risks and costs of applying really outweigh the benefits of applying certainly seems to be a calculation that’s going on in the minds of many potential applicants,” she said.