In a report that attempted to revive controversy over the Obama administration's deferred action program, Fox News repeatedly characterized the initiative as a way for undocumented immigrants to "avoid deportation." But this framing obscures the significant economic and social advantages that have been gained from this program, which has improved the lives of nearly half a million young immigrants.
Discussing a new smartphone app aimed at helping immigrants understand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals' program, or DACA, Fox & Friends First co-host Patti Ann Browne claimed the app would "help illegals avoid deportation" while on-screen text read: "Avoid Deportation App." She added that the app "is designed to help them take advantage of President Obama's non-deportation policy."
Fox News and other conservative media outlets have a long history of attacking the program. In fact, they derided it as "amnesty" when it was first introduced a year ago. Fox News even charged at the time that the program would "mak[e] it easier for acts of terrorism to be committed."
Contrary to Browne's assertions however, the app is simply a self-screening tool that will allow "DACA applicants to understand their eligibility" and offer "a searchable directory of listings for immigration legal services providers, including non-profit groups, in all 50 states."
As the American Immigration Lawyers Association noted, the app will also offer "protection from scammers who may try to take advantage of a vulnerable population," which is a known problem in immigration services.
Moreover, far from being a "non-deportation policy," DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants a two-year relief from deportation, which doesn't necessarily make them immune from deportation. According to guidelines from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security "can terminate or renew deferred action at any time, at the agency's discretion."
A pair of studies released this week show also that far from being the negative monstrosity Fox News repeatedly warned against, the policy has spurred economic and social benefits.
In an August 15 report on how DACA impacts "the educational, labor market, health, and civic engagement outcomes of young adult immigrants," researchers at Harvard and the University of Southern California found that of the young adults (ages 18-31) who were approved for the program through June 2013, about 61 percent have obtained a new job. The report from the National UnDACAmented Research Project continued:
Meanwhile, over half have opened their first bank account, and 38% have obtained their first credit card. Additionally, 61% have obtained a driver's license, which has likely widened educational, employment, and other options for these young adult immigrants.
The study further found that 94 percent would apply for U.S. citizenship if given the chance.
In an August 14 report, the Brookings Institution shed further light on who DACA applicants are: approximately three quarters are under 23 and have lived in the United States for at least 10 years. More than two-thirds were 10 or younger when they were brought into the country. According to Brookings, about 401,000 immigrants have been granted deferred action.
On June 15, ABC News-Univision joint venture Fusion collected 50 stories from young immigrants "who prove deportation relief was smart."