WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the wake of three massive storms that have disrupted the day-to-day lives of millions of people in the U.S., a group of 38 U.S. senators today called on the Trump administration to extend the crucial Oct. 5 deadline for Dreamers to renew their DACA status.
The group – led by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) – made the request in a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke.
“These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day to day living and operations in these states and territories,” the lawmakers wrote. “It would be appropriate for the government to extend the October 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request.”
The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program which allows some immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 to work and go to school without the fear of being deported.
In ending the program, the administration is allowing some Dreamers currently enrolled to apply for a renewal. Those renewal applications and a $495 fee are due by Oct. 5 and the lawmakers fear the recent disruptions caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria could make it nearly impossible for some eligible Dreamers to meet the deadline.
“Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still working to recover and will be for some time,” the lawmakers wrote. “An extension of the deadline would provide DACA recipients more time to collect the $495 application fee and gather the necessary documents to accurately complete the renewal application.”
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), tens of thousands of DACA recipients live in areas impacted by the storms.
In addition to Menendez, Nelson, and Blumenthal, the letter was signed by: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Following is the text of the lawmakers’ letter, and a PDF copy is available here:
September 25, 2017
The Honorable Elaine Duke
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Acting Secretary Duke:
We are writing to request that you extend the current October 5, 2017 deadline for individuals to submit appropriate applications to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for renewals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program.
On September 5, 2017, the Administration announced the end of the current DACA program. According to that announcement, the government will continue to accept DACA renewal applications until October 5, 2017, for individuals whose current DACA status expires by March 5, 2018.
As you know, in the last month, several major hurricanes made landfall in the Unites States. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated Texas and Florida. Hurricane Maria recently crippled Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island without electricity. The hurricanes took lives, flooded communities, ruined homes and businesses, and displaced thousands. These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day to day living and operations in these states and territories. Volunteers from across the country have poured in to help with relief efforts, and millions of Americans have family and friends living in the affected areas. According to the latest data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), tens of thousands of DACA recipients live in areas impacted by the storms, and DACA recipients served as first responders in the rescue and recovery efforts. Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still working to recover and will be for some time.
In particular in light of these events, it would be appropriate for the government to extend the October 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request. An extension of the deadline would provide DACA recipients more time to collect the $495 application fee and gather the necessary documents to accurately complete the renewal application. We appreciate that the government has extended other filing deadlines due to the storms.
Thank you for your timely consideration of this request, as we continue to work on enshrining permanent protections for Dreamers into law.