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Thousands of immigrants are losing their DACA protections already

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11/11/2017 12:37 PM
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Thousands of immigrants are losing their DACA protections already
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Republican leaders in Congress are in no hurry to pass a bill to address the fate of the 690,000 unauthorized immigrants who were protected from deportation and allowed to work in the US under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump administration announced in September it was bringing to an end.

Their reasoning is simple. The Trump administration named March 5 as the end date for DACA — meaning Congress still has four more months to work something out. “I don’t think we should put artificial deadlines inside the one we already have,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told reporters Thursday.

One problem. The March 5 deadline really is artificial — it doesn’t actually mark the date when immigrants will start losing their DACA protections. That is, as far as anyone can tell, already happening. And it’s only going to accelerate over the next several months.

By March 5, 22,000 immigrants will have lost DACA protections because their applications for one last renewal weren’t received at government offices by October 5, a deadline that the Trump administration set only a month in advance, and didn’t notify immigrants about.

Many of those immigrants simply missed the application deadline. But others, it’s now becoming clear, submitted their applications before the deadline — sometimes weeks before — and were the victim of a mysterious mail screw-up.

As Liz Robbins reports for the New York Times, renewal applications from 33 DACA recipients in New York and 21 in Chicago were sent well in advance of the October 5 deadline — only to get stuck in limbo somewhere around the US Citizenship and Immigration Services processing center in Chicago. In one case:

Tracking data from the United States Postal Service shows the envelope arriving in Chicago on Sept. 16 on its way to the regional processing warehouse of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that administers the program known as DACA.

Then the packet started circling Chicago in a mysterious holding pattern. From Sept. 17 to Sept. 19, it was “in transit to destination.” Then its tracking whereabouts disappeared until Oct. 4. Once again, it was “on its way.”

On Oct. 6, a day too late, it was delivered.
The mail-error revelations make it crystal-clear that if Congress really wants to protect DACA recipients from deportation en masse, they can’t wait until March 5 to do it. And if they do, they’ll be allowing some immigrants to fall through the cracks.