Young immigrants’ fate unclear as Congress delays DACA fix

MIAMI — Laura Lopez is a Mexican immigrant living in Florida who has been racing against time to avoid deportation.

Lopez said she arrived at the post office just after the cutoff time and missed the deadline set by President Donald Trump to renew her paperwork for the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program that helps young immigrants brought into the country illegally.

Lopez, 30, blamed the chaos of Hurricane Irma while juggling a move from Miami to Daytona Beach as reasons why she missed the cutoff.

As a result, her status as a recipient of DACA ends Friday. Her driver’s license, car insurance and housing lease are all in jeopardy once the program goes away for her.

“Everywhere I go, everything and everyone reminds me I have an expiration date” said Lopez, who is still trying to show proof that she attempted to send her renewal package the day before the Oct. 5 deadline. “The government is playing with the lives of families.”

Lopez is one of thousands of immigrants who are losing their protection from deportation under the program established by President Barack Obama in 2012, including many who missed the deadline or saw their applications lost in the mail. The immigrants also are being provided a glimpse of what will happen if Congress is unable to come up with a permanent replacement. Thousands more will start seeing their protections end in March.

Here are some questions and answers about the process:

WHY THE RUSH?

In theory, DACA recipients should be protected until March.

Under the program, immigrants get two-year permits that let them work and remain in the country. Trump rescinded the program earlier this year, but he let immigrants renew their papers if they were set to expire between September and March.

Immigrants had to reapply by Oct. 5 and pay a $495 fee.

The government says 132,000 of the 154,000 eligible DACA renewals applied in time, leaving more than 20,000 without any protection from deportation.

There have been other problems.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services said 900 requests were mistakenly rejected for being late, despite having arrived at the filing sites on time. Those applicants were told to reapply by Dec. 2.

The agency said it is still working to determine how many requests were affected by U.S. Postal Service delays, following reports of immigrants who shipped their documents well in advance and were delivered late. These applicants are now waiting for instructions on how to resubmit their renewal requests.

CAN THESE IMMIGRANTS BE DEPORTED?

Advocacy groups are highlighting the detention in Pennsylvania last week of a Guatemalan immigrant whose DACA renewal was reportedly among the ones delayed by the postal service. After Osman Aroche Enriquez, 26, was pulled over by police for what advocates said was an expired vehicle registration, he was transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and detained for three days.

The agency released him based on what ICE called an “exercise of discretion.”

“His case calls into question how many ‘Dreamers’ in similar situations are languishing in detention, and how many are living in fear of deportation due to expired status or post office delays,” Church World Service said in a statement.

The government does not turn over information about DACA recipients to deportation agents unless they are targeted for a criminal investigation. That means immigrants with expiring paperwork won’t be automatically deported, but they can if they get stopped by police or arrested on criminal charges.

Officials say there are no plans to change how it handles personal information of applicants.

However, Francis Cissna, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said “the guidance has always said that that policy could change. It has always said that; it still says that.”

WHERE DOES CONGRESS STAND?

On Capitol Hill, the most promising avenue for legislation seems to be with a bipartisan group in the Senate, led by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

They claim good progress on negotiations to give the so-called “Dreamers” protections through legislation that would be added to a sweeping spending package next month.

But the White House is adamant that other issues, including Trump’s long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall and increased funding for immigration enforcement inside the country, be addressed in the package. The Trump administration is also planning to move to a merit-based immigration structure.

The path forward is assuredly tricky, but there is widespread bipartisan support for the young immigrants among lawmakers.

WHAT COULD A SOLUTION LOOK LIKE?

Legislation would put the immigrants on a path to U.S. citizenship by granting permanent legal status to more than 1 million people who arrived before they turned 18 and pass background checks, among other criteria.

The bill proposes legalizing the status of those who were admitted to the DACA program.

The head of the agency that runs the program rescinded by Trump says any legislative fix will require money and time to implement, depending on how many people end up benefiting from the solution.

DACA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

3 active COVID-19 cases remain in Red Deer

47 new cases Tuesday in Alberta, still 620 active cases

Severe thunderstorm watch in place for Red Deer

Environment Canada issued the watch Tuesday afternoon.

Red Deer RCMP seek public assistance after hit and run with pedestrian

A hit-and-run collision sent a pedestrian to hospital Monday evening in Red… Continue reading

COVID-19 milestones recounted in Red Deer museum display

Citizens have been adapting to the ‘new normal’ in innovative ways

Central Alberta artist depicts those lazy, hazy (virus-free) days of summer at Sylvan Lake

David More’s Shore Figures exhibit is showing at the Red Deer museum

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

Daisies bring a sunny look to the garden

Daisies bring a sunny look to the garden

IIHF encouraged by NHL’s potential return to Olympics in ‘22

IIHF encouraged by NHL’s potential return to Olympics in ‘22

Raptors coach Nick Nurse knows attention to family will be key for players

Raptors coach Nick Nurse knows attention to family will be key for players

NFL, NFLPA still haven’t resolved all protocol for camps

NFL, NFLPA still haven’t resolved all protocol for camps

More positive tests, cancelled workouts add to MLB unease

More positive tests, cancelled workouts add to MLB unease

MLS to resume season minus 1 team amid growing virus concern

MLS to resume season minus 1 team amid growing virus concern

US government launches campaign to reduce high suicide rates

US government launches campaign to reduce high suicide rates

In risky bid, Trump stokes racial rancour to motivate voters

In risky bid, Trump stokes racial rancour to motivate voters

Most Read