Processing costs for DACA applications totaled $115.7 million last year – and legal immigrants were stuck with the tab.
Because application and renewal fees are waived for many Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries, the government transferred funds from other immigrant programs to cover the expense. DACA applicants only pay for work permits and fingerprints, leaving legal immigrants and visa applicants to shoulder the cost of adjudicating DACA eligibility.
Worse yet, DACA applications were prioritized ahead of family and naturalization applications, lengthening the waiting lines and processing times for legal immigrants.
Responding to questions from the Congressional Research Service, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that it adjudicated 56,506 initial DACA requests in fiscal 2017 at an estimated of $25.2 million. USCIS adjudicated 419,071 renewals that year at an estimated cost of $90.5 million.
USCIS said the cost of handling DACA applications over the past three years totaled $316.5 million.
This free-riding subsidy scheme compounds the flaws in President Barack Obama’s unconstitutional DACA program. Any congressional move to perpetuate DACA must, at minimum, require all applicants to pay the full cost of adjudicating their cases.
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, has suggested that every DACA applicant should be assessed an application surcharge to fund enforcement and/or restitution initiatives.
“Another use for surcharge funds could be a fund for victims of crimes by DACA beneficiaries, such as the victims in the recent fishing boat attack off Nantucket, in which a DACA beneficiary has been charged,” she noted. Ditto for the multiple DACA criminal arrests reported by FAIR just last week.