Following the proposed rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — with a six month delay — by President Donald Trump, DACA recipients had to scramble to file their renewal paperwork before Thursday, the deadline set by the administration.
The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services gave instructions that all renewal requests sent via mail must have been received by Thursday, Oct. 5, and the USCIS will not be accepting any requests received beyond this date.
In order to meet this deadline, workshops and “DACAthons” were held through the last day of September throughout Albuquerque, aiming to provide information and guidance for those needing help in seeking renewal.
The imposition of the deadline has caused many DACA beneficiaries a great deal of stress.
“This is an unfair, arbitrary deadline,” said Karla Molinar of the New Mexico Dream Team, an advocacy group for DACA recipients. “There’s no need to make the deadline so harsh. This issue hits low-income and rural communities the hardest. It is a lack of humanity to give the people that need assistance the most the least amount of time.”
There have been issues in trying to reach all DACA recipients, Molinar said, as some who are eligible for renewal and live in low-income or rural areas may not be informed of their options until it’s too late.
“We wanted to help as many people as possible before the deadline, and we wanted to provide as much information on DACA as we could in this amount of time,” Molinar said, referencing the desperation of those who have been scrambling to renew their documents in time.
According to Listo New Mexico’s website, there are almost 7,000 DACA recipients in the state, and following the new executive order, fewer than 1,500 of them are eligible to renew their documentation, which would allow recipients to benefit from DACA protection for another two years.
The Dream Team has had active participation in all workshop locations throughout the state, in cities like Albuquerque, Farmington and Taos.
Molinar and the rest of the Dream Team have included information on solutions for low-income families in these workshops throughout the state. Listo New Mexico offered a “DACA Renewal Scholarship” at the final workshop before the deadline, with the hope of giving more access to renewals for those who are struggling financially.
“The next step now that DACA has been rescinded is to push for the Clean Dream Act,” Molinar said. “This is legislation that is being proposed in Congress which is advocating for undocumented young people to be protected from deportation.”
The proposed federal legislation would allow access to citizenship in 13 years — the shortest time frame the Dream Team could fight for.
This new accessibility to a pathway for citizenship will help ensure that this does not criminalize immigrants’ parents in the process, by finding ways to grant citizenship for children and their parents, Molinar said. The Clean Dream Act will also work to fight the over-criminalization of immigrants at the border, where prisons are filled.
“As much as us young people want to protect ourselves, we don’t want to do it at the expense of our parents,” Molinar said. “This is not just a legal issue but a moral issue for those of us who have grown up in this society.”
The Clean Dream Act would serve as a more permanent solution, unlike DACA, which was a temporary fix achieved by an executive order from President Obama after legislation like the original DREAM Act failed to pass in Congress.
Over the next five months, Congress has the opportunity to create a new plan for those who have had DACA-authorized citizenship.
Rebecca Brusseau is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @r_brusseau.