EDITORIAL: Today is DACA renewal deadline

With President Donald Trump having announced that he is phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — a program started under the Obama Administration that has allowed hundreds of thousands of Dreamer youth to legally stay in our country — we remind participants that today is their last chance to file renewal applications.

The Department of Homeland Security has set today’s deadline for those whose DACA and related work authorization permits expire between Sept. 5 and March 5, 2018. Those whose authorizations expire after that date may continue to legally work until their expiration date, but they may not file renewals. DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, in a statement earlier this week, said nationwide there are 154,200 individuals whose DACA is set to expire during this time period. Of those, 106,000 either have renewal requests currently pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or have already been adjudicated.

We remind Duke that in a Sept. 5 memo, she promised all cases will be “adjudicated on an individual basis,” which we take to mean that renewals will be seriously considered for the merit of the applicant and the skill-set they offer, as well as their educational goals and achievements, and if they have committed no crimes. We sincerely hope that application requests will not simply be rejected because this program is being ended. And we encourage the remaining 48,200 eligible applicants to come forward and do so.

We also hold President Trump to the promise he made Sept. 5 when he announced he was ending the program and said: “The Department of Homeland Security will begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption.”

Sadly, the State of Texas is among those that forced the Trump Administration into acting by threatening to sue the federal government if the Trump Administration did not announce that it would discontinue the program.

Over 800,000 youth have signed up and been approved for DACA, including 220,000 in Texas — the second-highest state with participants behind California. They willingly registered their addresses and contact information with federal authorities who can now, no doubt, more easily locate them. We urge the Trump Administration not to seek them out and we once again plead that Congress get on the stick and begin immigration reform, so that meaningful policies that could allow talented youth to stay and thrive and work and contribute legally in our country can be made into law.

As President Trump said: “I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”

Congress: We are waiting.

For information on DACA renewals: https://www.uscis.gov/daca2017.