The Department of Homeland Security is issuing new instructions for Dreamers who missed an important deadline due to postal delays.
The New York Times recently reported that nearly 100 beneficiaries of the terminated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were rendered illegal after they missed an October 5th deadline for renewing temporary residency and work permits.
An independent investigation showed that at least some of the applicants missed the date due only to the United States Postal Service. Tracking data from one Dreamer showed his lawyer had sent the package on September 16th – and that it wasn’t delivered to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services until October 6th.
The envelop had apparently been stuck in a strange “transit loop,” being held at various locations around Chicago before finally arriving at a USCIS facility.
Government officials first said they’d seen no evidence of postal delays. Representatives for the agency said that, because the deadline had been missed, some 100 Dreamers were simply out of luck for renewals.
But after some scrutiny, the Department of Homeland Security ordered USCIS to process the applications.
The statement came out Wednesday night, garnering the DHS and USCIS rare praise from immigration advocates.
“We’re glad to see U.S.C.I.S. do the right thing by accepting these applications,” said Camille Mackler, director of legal immigration policy at the New York Immigration Coalition. “This news will come as a huge relief to DACA recipients who had been living with enormous anxiety for weeks now.”
Some of the applications, writes The New York Times, hadn’t arrived late at all – postal receipts show they’d been delivered to USCIS facilities in Chicago and New York on October 5th.
Yet for some reason, the documents weren’t opened until the following day.
In a written statement, the Department of Homeland Security recognized that some of the previously rejected applications had been received by the October 5th deadline.
“In addition, 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. U.S.C.I.S. will proactively reach out to those DACA requesters.”
The reversal will provide only temporary relief to a small subset of Dreamers – of whom there are hundreds of thousands residing legally in the United States.
The future of the 100 and the hundreds of thousands remains precarious after President Donald Trump canceled DACA in September.
At first seeming to appeal to Congress to find an easy solution for Dreamers, the commander-in-chief has since adopted at a harsh stance on the program’s future.
Weeks after making a deal with Democratic leaders to approve a DACA fix, Trump backtracked, saying he’d only sign off on legislation that included funding for his contentious border wall.
Since then, a handful of conservative and liberal lawmakers alike have been trying to find a way to save Dreamers before any would eligible for deportation.