US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a statement reminding eligible Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients that the deadline to file DACA renewal requests and employment authorization applications is October 5, 2017. This deadline comes in response to President Trump’s decision to end the Obama administration’s DACA program, which has protected approximately 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to the US as children and who hold no legal status. DACA also provided these individuals with work authorization. In a memorandum on September 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that they would begin to wind down the program until it officially expires on March 5, 2018. After the DACA program expires, it is unknown what will happen to those who were granted deferred action. The Trump administration has repeatedly stated that in the meantime it is up to Congress to develop a solution. The Trump administration would support legislation allowing DACA recipients to obtain lawful permanent status and eventually citizenship, according to testimony by a DHS official to Congress earlier today.
For those individuals whose DACA and work authorization expires between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, USCIS will continue to accept renewal requests until October 5, 2017. These renewal requests must be filed properly and physically received by the agency on or before that date. Renewal requests that are granted will be valid for two years, unless otherwise revoked. Applicants whose DACA and work authorization are set to expire after March 5, 2018 are no longer considered eligible to file a renewal request; however, their current DACA and work authorization are still considered valid until their expiration, unless otherwise revoked. Those whose DACA and work authorization expired on or before September 4, 2017, the day before the agency announced the program’s end, are also no longer deemed eligible for renewal if they had not properly filed a renewal request on or before September 5, 2017.
While many scramble to submit their renewal requests to DHS before October 5, others are trying to assist in different ways. After the agency announced their plan to end the DACA program, several states filed lawsuits challenging this decision. Many continue to hope that Congress will, in fact, come up with a legislative solution for DACA recipients. While some hoped that the DHS would extend the deadline for DACA renewal requests, the agency made it clear that they have no intention to do so. At a hearing in federal court last week, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department Brett Shumate explained to a federal judge that the government did not plan to extend the deadline in spite of an ongoing lawsuit that is currently challenging the government’s decision to end the DACA program. Shumate made this statement in response to US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis’s suggestion to extend the deadline while a legislative solution was being developed. Judge Garaufis’s reasoning behind this request for an extension was so that applicants would be able to properly file their applications. Judge Garaufis went on to tell the court that he has worked in every branch of government, but has never seen circumstances such as this. He also questioned the government’s decision to simultaneously “wind down” the DACA program and wait for Congress to provide a legislative solution. “What I want to know is what’s the hurry,” Judge Garaufis said. Judge Garaufis noted that the government’s decision to end this program not only affects the 800,000 DACA recipients, but potentially many others, including family members, friends, and colleagues.
This past summer, Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin introduced the Dream Act, which would allow young immigrants who grew up in the US to apply for lawful permanent residence and eventually citizenship. “These young people have lived in America since they were children and built their lives here,” Graham said in a statement. “There is support across the country for allowing Dreamers—who have records of achievement—to stay, work, and reach their full potential. We should not squander these young people’s talents and penalize our own nation.”