People fill out paperwork for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, August 15, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
The first group of applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been approved and work permits and deportation deferrals have been mailed, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.
According to Department of Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard, more than 72,000 applications have been received since the programs August 15 start.
"Following a thorough, individualized case review, USCIS has now begun notifying individuals of the determination on their deferral requests," Boogaard said in a statement. Approval letters should arrive within the next week, the LA Times reported.
The program, which as announced in June, allows young illegal immigrants who entered the United States before their sixteenth birthday to apply for a two-year deportation deferment. The DACA also grants those accepted work permits for two years.
Applicants must meet strict requirements including criminal background checks and fingerprinting. They must also pay a $465 fee to apply and cover the cost of processing.
According to Migration Policy Institute, more than 1.2 million young illegal immigrants may qualify for the program. NBC Latino reported the DHS estimates 1.04 million applicants could apply during the first year of the program, with nearly 890,000 being immediately eligible.
Despite the speed of approval for the first group of applicants, NBC Latino reported that the average wait time for approval is anticipated to be between four and six months. The plan's enactment comes a few months before the presidential election that sees both major political parties catering to Hispanic voters.
Although Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has not said what he would do with the plan if elected, many from his party have condemned the plan.
No official numbers regarding those approved on Wednesday have been released.