On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump Administration’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is currently scheduled to take effect in roughly six months. While I am deeply disappointed with the Administration’s decision to terminate DACA, the problems with our country’s immigration system go far beyond protecting our DREAMers. America’s immigration system is broken, and it has been since well before the Administration’s announcement on September 5th. For years I have been advocating for comprehensive, commonsense reform that focuses on bolstering the enforcement of laws, secures our border, and provides a reasonable and conditional pathway to citizenship for the nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, not amnesty. This is why, in addition to working to protect our DREAMers, I am also urging my colleagues to join me in bipartisan efforts for comprehensive immigration reform that provides long-term solutions for our broken immigration system.
While working on comprehensive immigration reform, we should include protections for our DREAMers similar to those offered under DACA. That is why I am currently supporting and cosponsoring three pieces of legislation: the BRIDGE Act (H.R. 496), the Dream Act (H.R. 3440), and the American Hope Act (H.R. 3591). Additionally, I joined a number of my colleagues in the House of Representatives in sending a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, urging her to protect the personal data and information of those enrolled in the DACA program. The letter specifically addresses concerns of the many young people who provided the government with their personal information in order to legally qualify for the DACA program, and who are now afraid this information will be given to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be used in their deportation. The Department of Homeland Security has a significant interest in keeping the trust of those immigrants who sought to obey the rules set forth under the DACA, and I look forward to their response.
Information on DACA and Our Valley
Since 2012, the DACA program has allowed certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to apply for a two-year deferment on deportation in order to remain in America to work or attend school. These young people, who on average came to the U.S. at six years old, are our neighbors – many of them are students – and they are contributing to our country. They are interwoven into the fabric of American society and our communities, in essence this is the only country they have ever known. Around 900 of them currently serve in our Armed Forces. In our local colleges, roughly 1,200 DREAMers are attending Fresno State and approximately 600 are attending UC Merced, with the hopes of positively contributing to the only country they have ever known upon graduation.
Information for DREAMers and Their Families
Because of the uncertainty now surrounding the DACA program, I want to provide some key dates and resources to help clear up any potential confusion following the Administration’s September 5th announcement.
For Those Who Have Not Yet Applied For DACA
· The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer accept first-time DACA applications filed on or after September 6, 2017.
For Those With Pending DACA Applications
· DHS will continue to process first-time DACA applications received through September 5, 2017.
For Current DACA Recipients
· DHS will honor current DACA grants and associated work permits through their expiration dates.
· For current DACA recipients whose authorizations expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, DHS will accept DACA renewal applications filed through October 5, 2017. DHS will reject all renewal applications filed after October 5, 2017.
· Recipients whose DACA authorizations expire on or after March 6, 2018 may not renew their authorizations.
· Once DACA recipients’ authorizations expire, the individuals will be subject to removal rules and procedures, like other removable individuals.
For Current DACA Recipients Seeking or Currently Holding Advance Parole
· DHS will no longer approve DACA recipients’ applications for advance parole (Advance parole allows DACA recipients to travel abroad without losing their DACA grants).
· DHS will honor DACA recipients’ previously-approved advance parole applications.
Legal Services for DACA Recipients
· The Executive Office of Immigration Review has compiled a list of free or low-cost legal service providers operating in each state: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/list-pro-bono-legal-service-providers.
· United States Citizenship and Immigration Services offers tips on avoiding victimization by “notarios” unlicensed to practice law: https://www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams.
For Further Information
If you have additional questions, here is a list of answers to frequently asked questions that my office has put together since the Administration’s September 5, 2017 announcement: http://costa.house.gov/sites/costa.house.gov/files/Costa%20Office%20DACA%20FAQs.pdf
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter update. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any federal issues of your concern. To stay up-to-date on the work I am doing in Congress, please visit my website at costa.house.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter here. You can also follow my work and events in our Valley on my Facebook pageand twitter account.
Member of Congress