The Trump

Im­mi­grants and ad­vo­cates are rush­ing to re­new per­mits and push­ing for new laws to al­low them to re­main in Amer­ica

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY MARIA SACCHETTI

ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to end the DACA pro­gram has prompted a frenzy of ac­tiv­ity for re­cip­i­ents and ad­vo­cates.

Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­ci­sion to wipe out de­por­ta­tion re­prieves for young un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants has un­leashed a fren­zied rush to re­new 154,000 per­mits be­fore an Oct. 5 dead­line, a process that ad­vo­cacy groups say will cost mil­lions of dol­lars in fees and stretch their re­sources to the limit.

In hur­ri­cane-rav­aged Hous­ton, lawyers are clear­ing their cal­en­dars to help im­mi­grants fill out the forms. In Mary­land and Vir­ginia, ad­vo­cates are hold­ing emer­gency meet­ings and re­cruit­ing vol­un­teers. Na­tion­wide, im­mi­grants and non­prof­its are rais­ing money on­line to help cover the $495 re­newal fees.

“It’s def­i­nitely one dis­as­ter af­ter an­other: one of nat­u­ral causes and one man-made,” said María Ro­driguez, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mi­ami-based Florida Im­mi­grant Coali­tion, which was pre­par­ing for Hur­ri­cane Irma on Fri­day. “It’s heart­break­ing.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced last week that it will elim­i­nate De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, or DACA, an Obama-era ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion that pro­tected hun­dreds of thou­sands of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants who were brought to the United States as chil­dren. Nearly 700,000 peo­ple have that pro­tec­tion now, govern­ment of­fi­cials said last week. Crit­ics say that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama did not have the au­thori-

ty to cre­ate the pro­gram when he set it up in 2012, and that DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries take jobs and other ben­e­fits that should go to le­gal res­i­dents.

Those whose de­ferred-ac­tion sta­tus is ex­pir­ing be­tween Sept. 5 and March 5, 2018, have a month to ap­ply to re­new their work per­mits. A suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tion would be only a re­prieve, valid for two years.

“It fell on peo­ple like a bag of bricks . . . and it’s only start­ing to sink in,” said Joshua Hoyt, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Part­ner­ship for New Amer­i­cans, a coali­tion of or­ga­ni­za­tions pro­vid­ing le­gal ser­vices to im­mi­grants. “It’s 5,133 [re­newal ap­pli­ca­tions] ev­ery day, in­clud­ing to­day. That’s 214 per hour, if we work all night long.”

Ad­vo­cates are urg­ing Trump to ex­tend the Oct. 5 dead­line to give im­mi­grants a chance to raise money to pay the re­newal fees — which could sur­pass $76 mil­lion if all those who are el­i­gi­ble ap­ply. Ad­vo­cates also say that im­mi­grants in Texas and Florida, which have large un­doc­u­mented pop­u­la­tions, could miss the dead­line be­cause of the ex­treme dis­rup­tion caused by the re­cent hur­ri­canes.

“There are whole neigh­bor­hoods that are still flooded,” said Les­lie Crow, a lawyer with Baker-Ripley, a Texas non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion help­ing im­mi­grants ap­ply for work per­mit re­newals. “Peo­ple have lost their cars. Peo­ple have lost all of their be­long­ings. ... I have heard from a few par­ents: ‘ I have no idea how I’m go­ing to be able to make that pay­ment now.’ ”

In Vir­ginia and Mary­land, ad­vo­cates are mo­bi­liz­ing vol­un­teers to quickly re­view re­newal ap­pli­ca­tions, tap­ping a net­work of lawyers that formed af­ter Trump’s Jan­uary ex­ec­u­tive or­der ban­ning en­try to the United States by cit­i­zens of cer­tain ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim coun­tries. The stakes, the ad­vo­cates say, are high.

“A small cler­i­cal er­ror might get their ap­pli­ca­tion kicked back, and then they won’t meet the dead­line,” said Sirine She­baya, a lawyer who vol­un­teers with the Dulles Justice Coali­tion. “It’s an all-hands-on sit­u­a­tion.”

Bar­ring ac­tion from Congress, thou­sands of DACA re­cip­i­ents will be­gin los­ing their le­gal sta­tus in March. About 200,000 will be phased out of the pro­gram in 2018, fol­lowed by 320,000 in 2019. The pro­gram would cease to ex­ist by 2020, fed­eral of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries are brac­ing for a re­turn to be­ing un­doc­u­mented, un­able to work legally for the first time in five years. Many would lose health in­sur­ance, driver’s li­censes and other ben­e­fits. And they would be at risk of de­por­ta­tion un­der an ad­min­is­tra­tion that is ag­gres­sively en­forc­ing im­mi­gra­tion laws.

“This is my home. Think­ing about not be­ing pro­tected in your own home is very scary,” said Vishal Di­sawar, 22, a fel­low at a tech in­cu­ba­tor in Chicago and a cit­i­zen of In­dia. His par­ents brought the fam­ily to the United States in 2001, when he was 6, so that his younger sis­ter could un­dergo heart surgery. He and his sis­ter have de­ferred ac­tion; his ex­pires first, some­time next year.

Di­sawar grad­u­ated last year from the Univer­sity of Illi­nois at Ur­bana-Cham­paign af­ter ma­jor­ing in com­puter science and po­lit­i­cal science. He said he feels en­cour­aged that Mi­crosoft and other tech gi­ants are vow­ing to de­fend DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries who lose their sta­tus, and he said he hopes that more peo­ple in the pro­gram will come for­ward to share their sto­ries and push for a new re­prieve.

DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries and their ad­vo­cates are fight­ing bat­tles on mul­ti­ple fronts: in Congress, the courts and at the state level, where some are re­new­ing ef­forts to se­cure in-state tu­ition and driver’s li­censes for un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, even if they do not have DACA sta­tus.

De­ferred-ac­tion ben­e­fi­cia­ries can get driver’s li­censes in all 50 states, but only 12 states and the Dis­trict is­sue li­censes to other un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Im­mi­gra­tion Law Cen­ter. In Texas, for in­stance, DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries would be un­able to re­new their driver’s li­censes if their sta­tus ex­pires, said a Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety spokesman.

The most ur­gent bat­tle is in Congress, where mul­ti­ple bills are pend­ing to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion of young im­mi­grants.

Many ad­vo­cates are throw­ing their weight be­hind the bi­par­ti­san Dream Act, which would make 1.8 mil­lion im­mi­grants — in­clud­ing those in DACA — el­i­gi­ble for con­di­tional res­i­dency, ac­cord­ing to the Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy Institute. Im­mi­grants who met ad­di­tional re­quire­ments, such as com­plet­ing their ed­u­ca­tion, could ap­ply for per­ma­nent res­i­dency and get on a path to U.S. cit­i­zen­ship.

In ex­change for a bill to pro­tect young im­mi­grants, Repub­li­can law­mak­ers are likely to push for con­ces­sions that would put at greater risk of de­por­ta­tion the rest of the na­tion’s es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, in­clud­ing the par­ents of DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries. Trump, mean­while, has called for fund­ing to ex­pand the wall on the bor­der with Mex­ico and to hire thou­sands of ad­di­tional Bor­der Pa­trol agents and per­son­nel to han­dle de­por­ta­tions.

Ad­vo­cates for im­mi­grants say they would set­tle for noth­ing less than a “clean” Dream Act that would not be tied to im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment. But crit­ics of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion — and some law­mak­ers — have called that po­si­tion un­rea­son­able.

“I know they don’t want that, but the whole ra­tio­nale for DACA was that they didn’t have any choice in the mat­ter,” said Mark Kriko­rian, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, which fa­vors tougher en­force­ment. “The par­ents did not grow up here and did have a choice.”

Trump has sent mixed sig­nals on the de­ferred-ac­tion ben­e­fi­cia­ries. Dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, he vowed to end the pro­gram im­me­di­ately on tak­ing of­fice. But he acted only months af­ter en­ter­ing the White House, af­ter Texas and sev­eral other states threat­ened to sue the ad­min­is­tra­tion to take ac­tion on DACA.

Af­ter last week’s an­nounce­ment, Trump re­as­sured young im­mi­grants on Twit­ter that they would be safe from de­por­ta­tion dur­ing the com­ing six months, and he urged Congress to pass a law to per­ma­nently re­solve their sta­tus. Oth­er­wise, he said, he would “re­visit” the is­sue.

On Fri­day, Rep. Luis V. Gu­tiér­rez (D-Ill.) said he was hope­ful that Congress would pass the Dream Act, which has not cleared both cham­bers since it was in­tro­duced 16 years ago. He ac­knowl­edged that a law that would pro­tect only young im­mi­grants brought here as chil­dren would be dif­fi­cult for DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries to ac­cept, since their par­ents would re­main at risk of de­por­ta­tion.

But he said they should face one bat­tle at a time.

“You are the most beloved, the most cared for, the most rec­og­nized of our im­mi­grants,” Gu­tiér­rez said Fri­day. “What chance do I have for your mom and dad if I lose you?”

BON­NIE JO MOUNT/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals (DACA) pro­gram and their sup­port­ers gather Thurs­day in Hy­attsville, Md. Af­ter the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said it would end DACA, many re­cip­i­ents have un­til Oct. 5 to re­new per­mits that al­low them to work and re­ceive ben­e­fits.

BON­NIE JO MOUNT/WASH­ING­TON POST

At­tor­ney Ni­cholas Katz speaks Thurs­day with DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries in Hy­attsville, Md. Bar­ring ac­tion from Congress, thou­sands of DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries will be­gin los­ing their le­gal sta­tus in March. About 200,000 will be phased out of the pro­gram in 2018, then 320,000 in 2019.

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