President Trump’s cruel decision to end the popular and successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has thrown the lives and futures of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients into chaos and uncertainty. While most observers are paying attention to the announced six month deadline of March 5, 2018, the most pressing deadline facing a quarter of all DACA beneficiaries is the rapidly approaching date of October 5, 2017.
-For 154,000 DACA beneficiaries, who have DACA expiration dates between September 5, 2017 and March 5th, 2018, the new arbitrary renewal application deadline of October 5th is of the utmost consequence. In responding to a manufactured deadline set by Texas and ending DACA, DHS created a whole new series of artificial deadlines of massive significance for more than 150,000 DACA recipients throughout America. They have to pull together $495 to pay the fee and fill out paperwork perfectly in order to gain renewal. If they don’t know about the new deadline, or can’t raise the funds, or get anything in the application wrong, they will be out of luck.
-Additionally, nearly 160,000 DACA recipients live in the states of Florida and Texas, both recently ravaged by hurricanes. Many of these individuals have been forced to temporarily relocate, while others’ top priority remains dealing with the aftermath of these natural disasters and not the impending DACA renewal deadline.
-What’s at stake: Without immediate action to support those applying for renewals or a reconsideration of, at a minimum, the October 5th deadline by the Trump Administration, tens of thousands of Dreamers will be sent back into the shadows and potentially exposed to deportation in a matter of weeks.
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, a federal judge in Brooklyn hearing two pending cases challenging the end of DACA, suggested during a September 14th hearing that the impending October 5th deadline should be extended, noting that “It would make a lot of sense from various vantage points to extend this deadline … There’s no harm, in this court’s view, in letting the legislative process play out and extending the deadline.” Despite the important assessment from Judge Garaufis, the urgent need to extend the DACA renewal deadline past October 5th should not solely wrest on the judicial branch.
The October 5th DACA renewal deadline is cruel, arbitrary, and unworkable. With the deadline rapidly approaching, we call on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to: Extend the deadline for DACA renewals to, minimally, January 5, 2018; Inform each DACA recipient across the country, by registered letter, of the change in U.S. policy and of registration requirements and deadlines; and Establish tables at all DHS/USCIS offices for the final week before the deadline, to receive completed DACA applications with time stamps and receipts, to facilitate renewal submission and minimize chaos during the final crush before the deadline
Ending DACA will cost an estimated 700,000 jobs and over $2 billion a year in tax revenue. It will force highly productive, skilled workers underground, harming U.S. businesses and impoverishing our communities – 97% of DACA beneficiaries are employed or in school, paying taxes, and contributing to our economy. This is why DACA has overwhelming support among employers, educators, political and faith leaders, and American voters. Extending the October 5, 2017 deadline is the right and sensible course of action.
By América’s Voice
América’s Voice Education Fund, americasvoice.org.