NYIC and Legal Aid Society Files Joint FOIA For Correspondence between USCIS, USPS, DHS
NEW YORK, NY– Several DACA recipients who filed applications for renewal well in advance of the October 5th deadline have been erroneously denied for allegedly missing that deadline.
In response, the New York Immigration Coalition and The Legal Aid Society have filed a joint request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for all correspondence between U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and United States Postal Service (USPS) regarding applications.
“As rejections continue to roll in, we are seeing a clear pattern of gross negligence or more likely, a systematic attempt to enact this Administration’s anti-immigrant agenda. This has left more and more DACA recipients terrified and in limbo,” said Camille Mackler, Director of Immigration Legal Policy at New York Immigration Coalition. “Our lawyers and their clients did everything in their power to ensure they met this sudden deadline. It is clearly on USCIS, USPS, and DHS to rectify this issue by accepting all applications postmarked before October 5th.”
“These rejections are neither isolated incidents nor coincidental but rather appear to be calculated, and are in line with this Administration’s ongoing xenophobic campaign to marginalize and disenfranchise immigrants,” said Hasan Shafiqullah, Attorney-In-Charge of the Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “Our clients and others Dreamers – who complied with the DACA renewal process and mailed in their applications with plenty of time to spare – are now on the verge of losing their status through no fault of their own. We call on the Department of Homeland Security to do the right thing and accept all applications that were postmarked by the due date.”
Lawyers belonging to the Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (I-ARC) have assisted hundreds of New Yorkers to meet the deadline, yet received notification that several applications filed ahead of schedule have been denied for being late. I-ARC lawyers have records from the USPS, which show that the paperwork was mailed on time, yet did not reach USCIS until after the deadline.
Some applications appear to have sat in the USPS’s Chicago Distribution Center for extended periods, up to 20 days, before being delivered to U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) after the October 5th deadline.
Another USPS tracking record shows a DACA filing “In Transit to Chicago, IL 60680” on September 23rd, arriving 14 days later at the Chicago Distribution Center on October 7th.
To date, NYIC and LAS has been informed of at least 40 rejections, 33 cases of mail delivery delays.
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.
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.