Up to 1.7 million of the 4.4 million unauthorized immigrants ages 30 and under could potentially qualify for a new Obama administration program that goes into effect tomorrow that would shield them from deportation and enable them to apply for temporary but renewable work permits, according to new estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

Announced on June 15, 2012, by U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, the new program, known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” potentially provides relief from deportation for eligible unauthorized immigrants who are ages 30 and under and arrived in the U.S. before age 16.

The new Pew Hispanic Center estimate of 1.7 million potential beneficiaries is an increase over the estimated 1.4 million potentially eligible unauthorized immigrants reported by the Pew Hispanic Center (2012) in June, when DHS announced the new policy. Since then, DHS (2012) has provided more detail on program eligibility, publishing updated guidelines on August 3, 2012. As a result, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that as many as 320,000 more unauthorized immigrants may be eventually eligible for relief from deportation. These additional potential beneficiaries are unauthorized immigrants ages 16 to 30 who came to the U.S. as children, currently do not have a high school diploma and are not enrolled in school. According to the updated eligibility guidelines, if these young people enroll in school by the date of their application, they could become eligible for relief from deportation.

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