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“It seemed like DACA took precedence,” he said.

USCIS said the wait time has been reduced to eight months and the agency hopes to return it to five months soon.

“The agency manages the volume of cases it receives through a network of processing centers and local offices and regularly rebalances its workload,” said USCIS spokesman Christopher S. Bentley.

He said the agency is committed to “timely adjudication” of the petitions from green card holders to bring their families to the U.S.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals application runs six pages. It asks whether the applicant entered the country illegally or overstayed a visa, where the applicant has lived in the U.S., and the applicant’s level of educational attainment, and includes a list of yes-or-no questions about arrests, gang membership and terrorist interests.

The fee is $465, which covers the application process and costs for having biometric identifiers taken and stored by the government.

A number of questions have been raised over how closely USCIS is reviewing the applications and over the documents it is accepting as proof of age and residency. Requirements include passports, pay stubs, utility bills and notarized affidavits from friends.

Few applicants have in-person interviews, which likely adds to the high approval rate and creates a security problem, said Mr. Palinkas, chief of the labor union.

He said any broader legalization for illegal immigrants should include in-person interviews and strict checks on documents.

“I cannot see how you can grant anybody a benefit when you haven’t even seen them, and they’ve already broken the law,” he said. “It becomes almost comical that this is the way they’re proceeding.”

Whatever the lessons to be learned from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the man who oversaw the process will have a chance to see them through.

Alejandro Mayorkas, who ran USCIS for the past two years, was promoted in December to be deputy homeland security secretary and was put in charge of preparing the department for full legalization.

So far, with more than a half-million people approved, reports of bad behavior have been few.

This month, however, a 19-year-old woman was referred for deportation after she was convicted of two counts of felony hit-and-run. The woman, who was in the U.S. under the deferred action program, had driven her car through a pile of leaves and killed two girls who apparently had been playing and hiding in the leaf pile.

It’s impossible to know how many others have run afoul of the law and face deportation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it doesn’t keep track of that data.

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