Fox News guest Michael Cutler, a former agent with the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Services and also a fellow at the nativist organization the Center for Immigration Studies, used the Boston Marathon bombing investigation to attack the deferred action program for undocumented students. In reality, the program, which is intended to provide deportation relief to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, is unrelated to the circumstances of the suspects' immigration status
During a discussion with Fox News host Megyn Kelly about recent arrests in the Boston Marathon bombings, Cutler used the fact that one of the suspects reportedly was here on a student visa to attack the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. After casting doubt on the process by which asylum is granted, Cutler brought up DACA and suggested the program had similar security lapses. He asked: “Do you really think anyone is scrutinizing anything?” He also claimed that the program approves 99.5 percent of applicants:
In fact, those who qualify for deferred action are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before age 16. While the Boston bombings suspects' current immigration status is in dispute, they were reportedly in the United States under student visas and were legal non-immigrants.
Currently, there is not a mandatory in-person screening process for DACA applicants. However, in-person interviews may be requested for applicants who are suspected of fraud and for quality assurance purposes. But the process to apply is so arduous that these applicants are heavily scrutinized. Other than the several pieces of identifying documentation needed to begin the process as well as the $465 in fees, each applicant must go through a biographic and biometric background test.
In addition, just because an applicant meets the eligibility requirements does not mean they will be approved. Each application is decided on a case-by-case basis. With 1.7 million people potentially eligible for the program, many are finding it difficult to answer basic questions, sometimes leading them not to apply.
Cutler's claim that “99.5 percent” of DACA applications are approved has been criticized by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agents for cherry-picking data. The claim was reported in a Washington Times article and is reportedly from Cutler's own group.
As USCIS press secretary Christopher Bentley explained, “It's simply inaccurate to say there's an approval rate of 99.5 percent, because it doesn't look at the whole application process.” The actual number according to USCIS is about 57 percent, and the number of denied applications has increased each month.
New polling shows that Americans don't think the Boston bombings should factor into the immigration bill debate. According to a poll by the Pew Hispanic Center, 58 percent of those polled agree that the Boston attack “is mostly a separate issue.”