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Texas Accounts For 16 Percent of Children Seeking Asylum Under Controversial Law

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune
Volunteers at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where the Rio Grande Valley Catholic Charities have a makeshift shelter to help handle the surge of immigrants who have recently crossed into the U.S.

Two years ago, the Obama administration implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

It provides temporary legal status to young people brought to the U.S. illegally, but two years in, some estimates say only about half of people eligible for the program have applied.

"Almost 7 percent of the Texas population is composed of people living in the U.S. illegally,” says Michele Waslin of the Pew Charitable Trusts. “Texas is a really interesting state because not only is it one of the states with the largest unauthorized immigrant population, but Texas is also a state that has seen a lot of growth in its unauthorized immigrant population."

Waslin manages the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Immigration and the States Project. She says state and local governments should get involved in the implementation of immigration programs like DACA. Specifically, in areas like outreach and education – explaining what DACA is and what documents people need to register for it. She says states and localities should protect immigrants from fraud.

“Many, many applicants from Texas are applying for DACA,” Waslin says. “There have been 105,000 applicants from Texas that have had their application accepted for DACA, which is about 16 percent of the national total.”

According to the Pew Research Center, apprehensions of children 12 and younger trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border have been far greater than those among teens.

President Obama is said to be weighing new executive actions on immigration, after Congress failed to pass a bill aimed at addressing the border crisis last month.

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