Last night, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reversed its prior decision and agreed to allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients whose applications were mailed on time but not delivered to USCIS until after the October 5th Deadline, to re-file with proof of their initial mailing.
In response, Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition issued the following statement:
"USCIS did the right thing by reversing course and allowing DACA applicants who filed on time to reapply. The New York Immigration Coalition, together with our legal services network, I-ARC, raised the alarm early and won a major victory for our clients. This means that 100s of people have new hope for the future. We now call on USCIS to accept all applications impacted by the mail delays as well as any supposed clerical errors that applicants can quickly remedy.”
On September 5th, the Trump Administration announced that it would phase out the DACA program, which protects over 800,000 young people, who were brought to the United States as children, from deportation. According to a memo released by the Department of Homeland Security, anyone who has a DACA permit expiring between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 could apply for a two-year renewal. That application had to be submitted by October 5th. Subsequently, DACA recipients and their lawyers swiftly filed for renewals well ahead of the deadline.
Throughout September, DACA recipients, lawyers, and advocates scrambled to meet that short deadline. However, in the last week of October it became apparent that many applications that had been mailed on time were not delivered until after October 5th. With information from our Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (I-ARC), the NYIC and the Legal Aid Society worked with The New York Times to determined what happened. On November 10th, 2017, a spokesperson for the US Postal Service admitted to a postal delivery error. Meanwhile, examples keep coming in from all over the country of applications submitted at all three intake locations that were either victims of the mail delivery error or had otherwise been mailed, and at times delivered to the post office on time but did not arrive at the USCIS office. Despite the fault clearly not being on the DACA recipients themselves, who had done everything they could to comply with the sudden deadline and requirements imposed on them, USCIS refused to make allowances for these unjustly rejected applications until last night.
I-ARC is a collaborative of 65 immigration, legal, and nonprofit organizations around New York State, including The Legal Aid Society, the Immigrant Justice Corps, Legal Services NYC, Sanctuary for Families, the Immigrant Defense Project, Catholic Charities Community Services, the Community Justice Clinic at the University of Buffalo School of Law, My Sister’s Place, CARECEN-NY, the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, the New York Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the New York Immigration Coalition. I-ARC was formed by several legal service providers building on the momentum of the legal efforts at JFK airport in January 2017 in response to President Trump’s initial Muslim Ban and the subsequent #NoBanJFK movement.
The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State. We envision a New York state that is stronger because all people are welcome, treated fairly, and given the chance to pursue their dreams. Our mission is to unite immigrants, members, & allies so all New Yorkers can thrive. We represent the collective interests of New York's diverse immigrant communities and organizations and devise solutions to advance them; advocate for laws, policies, and programs that lead to justice and opportunity for all immigrant groups; and build the power of immigrants and the organizations that serve them to ensure their sustainability, to improve people's lives, and to strengthen our state.