In an about-face, the Trump administration announced that participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program whose paperwork was submitted by mail before—but not received by—the October 5 renewal deadline may reapply.
The decision, made Wednesday night by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, comes after nearly 100 DACA applicants claimed their renewal forms were delayed by the U.S. Postal Service despite having submitted the paperwork well ahead of the deadline. A USPS spokesperson later admitted that an “unintentional temporary mail processing delay” did occur.
Following those claims, which were first reported by the New York Times, immigration lawyers sued the agency, saying that hundreds, if not thousands more DACA renewal applications may have been rejected due to postal SNAFUs. According to lawmakers, however, the current number of DACA applicants confirmed to have been affected by postal delays is 115, the Times reported, but a staggering 4,000 applications were rejected for arriving “late.” It’s not yet known how many of those that arrived after the deadline were sent by mail.
Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez had previously called the situation “unacceptable,” and tore into the administration in a statement released earlier this month:
I don’t care if it was incompetence by one federal agency or the other, the DACA applicants did everything right and they are still getting rejection notices and their whole lives in this country and the hopes and dreams of their families are at stake.
Before Wednesday’s announcement, the administration had claimed their hands were tied when it came to any delayed delivery of the forms. Now, however, it seems they are taking active steps to correct their error.
“U.S.C.I.S. had discovered certain cases in which the DACA requests were received at the designated filing location (e.g., at the applicable P.O. Box) by the filing deadline, but were rejected,” the Department of Homeland Security—which oversees the program—said in a statement. “U.S.C.I.S. will proactively reach out to those DACA requestors to inform them that they may resubmit their DACA request.”
According to DHS, those reapplying must provide “individualized proof that the request was originally mailed in a timely manner and that the cause for receipt after the Oct. 5, 2017, deadline was the result of USPS mail service error.”
“We’re glad to see U.S.C.I.S. do the right thing by accepting these applications,” Camille Mackler, the New York Immigration Coalition’s legal immigration policy director, told the Times. “This news will come as a huge relief to DACA recipients who had been living with enormous anxiety for weeks now.”
While the DHS’ reversal is welcome news for those DACA recipients who have a second chance at extending their participation in the program, the Trump administration remains dead-set on ending the program itself. As a result, nearly 800,000 young people who have lived in the United States for the vast majority of their lives will live, once more, under the threat of deportation.