Nov. 16, 2012— -- The number of undocumented young people applying for a temporary stay of deportation dipped in the first half of November, according to statistics released on Friday by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The Obama administration program known as deferred action -- which allows qualifying young undocumented immigrants to remain in the country and apply for a work permit -- has been in effect since August 15. In September and October, an average of 5,700 and 5,300 people applied for the program per day. That daily average dropped to 4,500 for the first half of November.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that up to 1.7 million of the 4.4 million undocumented immigrants under 30 may benefit from deferred action.
David Leopold, general counsel with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that Dreamers weren't sure what would happen with the program if Republican candidate Mitt Romney was elected, which may have impacted the number of daily applicants. Romney said during the campaign that he would end deferred action, but seek to put a permanent solution in place.
"Since the election, we've seen a spike [in calls regarding DACA]," he said. "And that does not suprise me at all, I actually expected that."
So far, more than 53,000 Dreamers have been approved for deferred action. The program is temporary and is only available to young people who meet certain qualifications, like attending or graduating from high school. Since the election, leaders from both the Democratic and Republican parties have said that comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority in 2013.