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Arizona Ranks No. 1 In Deferred Action Applicants

Arizona ranks No. 1 in eligible youths who have applied for deferred action under a federal program launched by the Obama administration in 2012. According to the Migration Policy Institute, more than 23,000 people have applied under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The DACA program gives work permits to young people who immigrated to the United States as children and are currently in the country illegally.

In Arizona, more than two-thirds of the group that was immediately eligible for the program have applied. Percentage-wise, that makes Arizona the No. 1 state for DACA applicants.

According to Randy Capps of the Migration Policy Institute, the enrollment rate for the program is high in Arizona due to a large immigrant population and strict immigration policies. He said the application rate could be even higher, but factors such as poverty and the fear of deportation are holding people back.

“There’s a significant number of youths — over 10,000, we estimate — that could be eligible if they would complete high school, or go back to an adult education program," Capps said.

Nationally, DACA-eligible immigrants from Mexico, Central America and Peru were more likely to apply for the program than other groups.

Alejandra Guillen is a KJZZ News Intern who will be a senior at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in the fall. She is majoring in journalism with an English literature minor.