After reports of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals being rejected en masse for being “late,” due to U.S. Postal Service delays, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) relented and is giving more than 900 young immigrants a second chance to apply.
USCIS stated it is in the process of sending letters to those whose applications arrived at the post office in time, but were not officially “received” by USCIS until after the October 5 deadline, The New York Times reported Thursday.
In a set of frequently asked questions, USCIS partially clarified the situation, saying that letters will be sent to those identified as rejected due to post office delays, adding that those who qualify but do not receive letters should reach out to the agency.
However, it still leaves many uncertain about what to do next, stating that “specific guidance will be provided soon.”
Camille Mackler, director of immigration legal policy at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), said their lawyers and clients “moved mountains” to meet the deadline.
“This sluggish response by USCIS has caused unnecessary and continuing hardship for DACA recipients who did their best to comply with an unreasonable deadline. While USCIS’s decision and FAQs are a reprieve to some DACA recipients, it leaves others confused, terrified and in limbo,” Mackler said in a press release.
After the Trump administration heartlessly ended DACA on September 5, it gave recipients only one month to renew their applications for two more years. In a move departing from standard procedure, USCIS would only accept applications received—rather than postmarked—by the October 5 deadline, making an already unreasonable deadline that much more maddening.
The USCIS attempted to hold its ground when reports emerged of renewal applications being denied due to postal service delays, but reversed its hardline position shortly after.
This all could have been avoided if the Trump administration had refrained from adding insult to injury by issuing a one-month deadline to renew after terminating the lifeline DACA program.
Despite the second chance, the delays are already putting immigrants in danger.
Hasan Shafiqullah, director of the immigration unit of the Legal Aid Society in New York, told The New York Times that losing two months has threatened one of his clients, whose DACA expires today.
“What will U.S.C.I.S. do to mitigate that harm and cost to her?” Shafiqullah said. “The least they can do is expedite the adjudication of the renewal, so she can get her work permit as fast as possible.”