Warner calls on DHS to expedite DACA renewal process for DREAMers

mark warnerU.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) joined a group of Democratic Senators in a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen urging DHS to expedite the processing of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal applications.

After President Trump decided to arbitrarily terminate the program last year, federal courts have issued preliminary injunctions this year that partially blocked the Administration’s actions. As a result, hundreds of thousands of individuals who previously received deferred actions through the DACA program are now eligible to apply to keep, renew or regain their immigration status. Accelerating the review of these applications will help reduce the uncertainty and anxiety associated with President Trump’s termination of DACA, and demonstrate DHS’s intention to comply with district courts’ orders.

“We encourage DHS and USCIS to expedite the review and processing of these renewal applications,” the Senators said. “An estimated 20,000 young people have already seen their DACA status expire, and until those benefits are restored, they are vulnerable to the threat of detention and deportation, and may have already lost jobs, drivers’ licenses, and educational opportunities. Reducing the processing time for DACA renewal applications, particularly for those individuals whose status has already expired, is a vital step to minimize fear and confusion for recipients, their families, employers, schools, and communities.”

In addition, the Senators urged DHS to consider automatically extending the work authorizations of DACA recipients, since it is likely not all recipients applying for renewal will receive their new work permits before their current permits expire.

The Senators also urged DHS to issue official policy guidance that clearly states DACA recipients will not be enforcement priorities for removal. Issuing official DHS policy guidance that makes clear DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities for removal will help ensure DREAMers are protected while their renewals are processed. Finally, the Senators also requested updated information on the number of DACA renewal applications that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have received since announcing that the agency would resume accepting applications on January 13th, 2018.

In addition to Sen. Warner, the letter was signed by Sens. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate in Congress for the protection of children of undocumented immigrants, known as DREAMers. He worked with his colleagues to draft bipartisan compromise legislation that would protect DREAMers while strengthening our border security. That measure failed to receive enough votes to advance during last month’s floor debate. Sen. Warner has pledged to continue to working with his colleagues to find a balanced solution that protects these DREAMers.

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