Immigration Reform and Administrative Relief for 2014 and Beyond: A Report on Behalf of the Committee for Immigration Reform Implementation (CIRI), Human Resources Working Group
Successful implementation of any broad-scale immigrant legalization program requires an adequately funded infrastructure of immigrant-serving organizations. In 2014, President Obama announced an expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as the Deferred Action for Parents of Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which would make it possible for approximately five million people to attain lawful, albeit temporary, status and employment authorization. As the initial DACA program instituted in 2012 has already stretched the capacity of immigrant-serving organizations to their limits or even beyond them, the possibility of full implementation of DAPA and the expanded DACA programs presents a formidable challenge for these organizations.
In this paper, the Human Resources Working Group of the Committee for Immigration Reform Implementation (CIRI) draws on the lessons of the Immigrant Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), DACA, and other initiatives to provide a roadmap for immigrant service delivery agencies and their partners in planning for implementation of the expanded DACA and the DAPA programs, with an eye (ultimately) to broad legislative reform. In particular, this paper focuses on the funding and human resources that the immigrant service delivery field, writ large, would require to implement these programs.
If expanded DACA and DAPA were implemented, the CIRI Working Group estimates that, of the total of five million that may be eligible, 1.08 million individuals will require extensive application assistance, generating the need for approximately three times more full-time staff than are currently in the field. Moreover, without additional funding and staff, agencies will likely not be able to shift a portion of staff time to accommodate any new program, even taking the typical fee-for-service model into account. Thus, the paper identifies a pressing need for “upfront” funding as early in the program as possible for outreach, public education, combating notario fraud, advocacy, and assistance to self-filers.
In terms of the financial resources needed, the Working Group’s analysis shows that about $83 million, net after collection of fees, is a reasonable estimate for the potential nonprofit sector “funding gap” required to assure effective application assistance services to the eligible low-income people likely to apply for the expanded DACA and DAPA programs. Wise front-loaded investments can help to maximize coordination and minimize duplication, ensure education and outreach, and channel applicants to the most appropriate sources of assistance. While investments required to build the necessary infrastructure are significant, the costs will be far outweighed by the benefits, not just to the DACA/DAPA population but to the society at large.