House Democrats Demand Department of Homeland Security Reverse Rejections of DACA Applications After USPS Error

November 15, 2017

(Washington, D.C.) – House Democrats will send a letter to acting Secretary Elaine Duke demanding that the Department of Homeland Security reconsider the applications of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients who applied for an extension but were rejected after a delay by the U.S. Postal Service.

The effort was led by House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Reps. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY).

“DACA recipients are young Americans who study, contribute to our economy, and serve in our armed forces. They are our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. The DACA recipients who sent in their renewals well in advance do not deserve to have their applications rejected for factors outside of their control,” wrote the lawmakers. “We urge you to reverse your current stance and process those applications postmarked by October 5th.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Krishnamoorthi, Crowley, Gutiérrez, Espaillat, Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). Additional House Democrats are expected to sign the Crowley-Gutiérrez-Krishnamoorthi-Espaillat letter in the coming day.

In September, the Trump administration announced it would end the DACA program in early 2018, giving DACA recipients whose status expires between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 just one month to renew their status. Despite calls from Congressional Democrats and advocates, the administration refused to extend this deadline to allow recipients with expiring status more time to fill out and submit renewal applications.

Dozens of applicants who abided by this deadline and mailed their applications in before the October 5 deadline were still rejected due to mistakes by USPS. While USPS has taken full responsibility for the mistake, the applications of these individuals have been rejected by DHS.

This effort follows a push by Crowley and Gutiérrez last Friday demanding that Secretary Duke protect DACA recipients impacted by the Postal Service error. House Democrats have also called for the passage of the bipartisan, bicameral DREAM Act, legislation that would put the more than 800,000 DREAMers in this country on a path to earn citizenship.

Read the full text below.

Dear Acting Secretary Duke,

We write to urge you to process all renewal applications postmarked on or before October 5th, 2017, including those applications that arrived late as a result of error by the postal system.

According to a November 10th report from the New York Times, at least 33 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in the New York area and 41 in Chicago fell victim to unusually long delays by the U.S. Postal Service when mailing their DACA renewal applications. According to the report, some of these applicants sent in their renewal paper work weeks in advance, yet error from the postal system led to the applications arriving at the processing warehouses after the October 5th deadline.

Overall, 22,000 people will lose their DACA protections because their applications for a final renewal because they weren’t received by October 5th, including these individuals. This has deprived these people of their ability to work and stay in the country once their DACA permits expire.

In the aftermath of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ September 5th announcement that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would be ending with the start delayed to March 5th, 2018, thousands of young undocumented Americans have lived in fear of being deported from the only country they have known once their permits expire. For those whose permits expired between September 5th 2017 and March 5th 2018, the October 5th deadline to mail in renewals was an arbitrary and short deadline; when the DACA program was first implemented, recipients were told to file for renewal at least three months in advance of the expiration date. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately notify immigrants of the deadline once President Trump decided to end the program. The failure by the Department of Homeland Security to take into account the number of eligible persons who would apply as well as the potential for error by the postal service when setting the deadline and processing the applications is shortsighted and unacceptable.

DACA recipients are young Americans who study, contribute to our economy, and serve in our armed forces. They are our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. The DACA recipients who sent in their renewals well in advance do not deserve to have their applications rejected for factors outside of their control.

We urge you to reverse your current stance and process those applications postmarked by October 5th.