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Updated Aug 6, 2014 - 6:03 pm

Arizona youth apply most for Obama's deferred-action program

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A new report on the two-year-old program that allows youth brought to the United States illegally as children protection from deportation shows Arizona has the highest percentage of applicants.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program gives some youth who lack legal status protection from deportation while also allowing them to work legally for two years. Congress Republicans who say the program is in part to blame for a recent wave of unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. illegally have tried to abolish it. But President Barack Obama, who founded the program through an executive order, has renewed it for another two years. Already, 25,0 of the 680,000 participants enrolled have applied for renewal.

The report by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute shows that 66 percent of eligible DACA recipients in Arizona actually apply for the status.

Arizona has only a fraction of youth who are eligible for the program compared with states like California, where 371,000 students qualify. The state places ninth on a list ranking states by the number of eligible youth.

Still, about 34,000 youth qualify in Arizona, and an estimated 23,000 have applied, according to the report. About 20,000 have been approved.

But state officials have shunned the temporary reprieve. Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, issued a directive denying DACA recipients state driver's licenses. Students also don't qualify for in-state tuition at Arizona universities.

A federal appeals court overturned Brewer's orders denying licenses last month. She is appealing that decision.

Nationwide, about 55 percent of youth who are eligible actually apply -- a rate notably lower than Arizona's, where immigrant-rights groups abound.

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