As of Wednesday, nearly 180,000 had applied for deferred action, DHS reported. About 158,000 are being checked for criminal records, while around 6,400 are on the final step of review.
The speed with which DHS processes deferred action applications has renewed importance in light of remarks by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who said last week that he would end the deferred action policy but honor the applications already approved under the Obama administration.
Romney’s campaign confirmed that those still in line for deferred action wouldn’t be given consideration if he became president, meaning many undocumented immigrants with pending applications would be left in the cold.
That could affect a lot of people. DHS noted that the pace of these early acceptances isn’t necessarily reflective of how quickly the rest of the decisions will be made. While the 4,600 applications were approved within two months of submission, the department predicts the average time to process requests will be four to six months, spokesman Peter Boogaard said in a statement.