Democrats press DHS to speed up DACA renewals


Originally published by The Washington Post

A group of Democratic lawmakers are asking the Trump administration to accelerate the renewal of work permits for young immigrants protected by an Obama-era program that remains the subject of federal court challenges.

The request from Democrats comes as the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the roughly 690,000 immigrants it protects remains in flux. A deadline imposed by President Trump to end the program passed on Monday — but the date is moot as federal court challenges over the legality of the program and Trump’s decision continue.

On Wednesday, the president again accused Democrats of stalling talks over the fate of the program, saying in a speech to the Latino Coalition in Washington he is “ready, willing and able” to strike an agreement but Democrats “don’t want to solve the problem” and would rather allow the program to fester for potential political gain.

In response, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday, “President Trump created the problem and we gave him a very good offer, better than some people wanted. He refused it. Let’s hear what our Republican friends have to say on DACA.”

People protected by DACA receive a two-year work permit and are required to reapply ahead of the expiration date.

With court challenges continuing, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) and other Democrats on Wednesday asked the Department of Homeland Security to expedite the renewal applications of immigrants who have reapplied to remain part of the program. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, they estimate that about 20,000 immigrants have seen their DACA status expire since the fall and are “vulnerable to the threat of detention and deportation, and may have already lost jobs, drivers’ licenses, and educational opportunities.”

The lawmakers also called on Nielsen to consider extending protections for current DACA recipients beyond the date that their protections are set to expire. They cited a decision by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to extend the temporary protected status of roughly 200,000 Salvadorans whose protections under program are set to end in September.

“As hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients were only recently given permission to file for renewal, as a result of the injunctions, we are concerned that many of these applications will not be adjudicated before these recipients’ current protections expire,” the Democrats wrote. “DACA recipients are at risk of losing their jobs and deportation if their status expires.”

Cortez Masto, along with Sens. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) and Robert Menendez (N.J.), also asked DHS for information on exactly how many renewal applications it has received, how many have been renewed and typically how long the process is taking for applicants. These lawmakers and immigrant activists have complained for several months about delays and a lack of clear instructions on how the renewal process will be handled amid court challenges.

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