Now there’s a cloud coming up out of the sea no bigger than a man’s hand.
— 1 Kings 18:44

If DACA grants are so important to individual illegals, and if adding those individuals to America’s legal population is such a good thing for the nation (as the administration argues) …

… then why did nearly 40 percent of eligible first-round DACA beneficiaries not renew?

Always bearing in mind that it is still early days and the hit-or-miss nature of USCIS statistical data, when we compare the first six months of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initial applications to the DACA renewals filings for those in that first cohort we see this:

 North-f1-4-14-15 DACA

The gap between the top line (first-round applications) and the second line (renewals), small as it seems in the chart, may be predicting a much larger gap, as time passes.

The important numbers in the graphic are the 381,005 first round DACA applications, for the first six months of the program (the documents are good for two years) and the comparable number for the first six months of renewals: 234,115. The reduction is 39 percent.

Thus, nearly two out of five first-round DACAs seemingly have decided that $465, plus some paperwork, is too high a price to be in the United States legally.

What does one make of these numbers, assuming that they are roughly correct?

Two (complementary) theories seem to be:

  1. The first round DACAs already have the stuff they need most: a Social Security number and a driver’s license, both obtained in the first round and unlikely to be revoked; and
  2. Many of these DACAs sense that interior enforcement of the immigration law is so lax that there is no real need for a second round of applications.

That nearly 40 percent of the first-round beneficiaries apparently feel this way is a sad reflection on the Dreamers, who are supposed to be such a help to America.

Now it should be noted that the bottom line in the chart was never going to be 100 percent of the top line. There are several legitimate reasons why some of the first-round DACAs do not reach the second round:

  1. A handful have died, other small numbers have moved on to third countries;
  2. Another small group has secured legal status in the United States in some other way, notably by marrying citizens; and
  3. Some have returned to their home countries.

But nearly 40 percent in those classes? Not likely.

What is more likely is that most of the nearly 40 percent remain in the United States, now in illegal-but-documented status (SSNs and driver’s licenses) and are, in effect, thumbing their 100,000-plus collective noses at Uncle Sam.

It is still early in the DACA renewal program and maybe the gap will become lower in the future, but history tells us a couple of things: In a somewhat similar situation with a quite similar population, only about half the beneficiaries of the 1986 IRCA amnesty moved from green card to citizen status, to the chagrin of the open borders types of that day, and, a bit earlier in time, as 1 Kings 18:45 tells us, that little cloud morphed into a

… heaven that was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain … 

The author is grateful to CIS intern Cody Donald for his research assistance and for the graphic.

SOURCE: Center for Immigration Studies

Mr. North, a Fellow of the Center for Immigration Studies, is an internationally recognized authority on immigration policy. His concentration is predominantly on the interaction between immigration and domestic systems, such as education and labor markets. See his blog here.