Democratic members of Congress held a rally outside the Capitol Thursday, the deadline day for immigrants living in the country illegally to submit their application to stay in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Oct. 5)
WASHINGTON â€” One night before Thursday’s deadline,Â roughly 36,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children had not yet applied for a short-term renewal of their Obama-era deportation protections, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
About 154,000 recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program needed to reapply by Thursday to keep their legal protections through March. If they are not approved for renewal, the DACA recipient â€”Â or so-called DREAMers â€” will not be protected under the program following the expiration of their permit.
As of Wednesday evening 118,000 renewal requests had been submitted to DHS. Those numbers could still go higher because of what DHS spokesman David Lapan described as a â€œsurge of applications received recently.” Â
Lawmakers in both parties had asked the Department of Homeland Security to extend the deadline to DACA recipientsÂ who were hit by the recent string of hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.Â
DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke allowed for a case-by-case consideration for DACA renewal requests for people in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but the department did not budge on the other locations.
In September, President Trump elected to end the program that former president Barack Obama had put in place toÂ provideÂ legal protections to nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Trump gave a six-month window to allow Congress to draft legislation that would provide some level of protection.
There seems to be bipartisan agreement to provide some protections to the DREAMers, although it is not clear what Trump and RepublicansÂ in Congress may demand in exchange for allowing these immigrants to stay in the U.S.
There are multiple bills floating around Congress that would provide varying degrees of protection.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Florida RepublicanÂ who has been a vocal advocate for undocumented immigrants, is the sponsor of the Recognizing Americaâ€™s Children Act. His billÂ would offer permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants for a 10-year conditional period, and then recipients can apply for legal permanent status.Â Curbelo would like his legislation to move forward, but told USA TODAY heâ€™d vote for any current legislation that providesÂ protections for DREAMers.
Curbelo said that previous DACA recipients would qualify for his bill, regardless of whetherÂ they made the renewal deadline, and he had some words of encouragement for DREAMers who hadnâ€™t applied in time.
â€œI understand youâ€™re nervous, I understand you’re anxious but right now thereâ€™s a lot of momentum for a permanent solution that is far lot more valuable and important than this DACA benefit. So be patient,”Â Curbelo said.
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