Today is the deadline for tens of thousands of young immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to renew their protection from deportation one last time, before the program ends in March. But the Trump administration's one-month deadline to file paperwork may be missed by thousands.
As of Wednesday, federal officials said they had yet to receive applications from more than 40,000 young immigrants potentially eligible to renew their protection under DACA, as the program is known.
A month ago, President Trump rescinded the Obama-era program, which allows roughly 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants to live and work in the United States. DACA recipients whose two-year permits were set to expire between Sept. 5 and March 5, when the program ends, were told they could renew for a final two years if they did so by Oct. 5.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there were 154,000 potential recipients whose permits were set to expire within the set window. About 58,000 of those had already filed renewal applications by the date Trump rescinded the program. Since then, in the last month, another 54,000 have filed renewal applications.
That still left about 42,000 as of yesterday who had yet to file to renew.
Since early last month, legal providers have been working at a frantic pace to process DACA renewal applicants. Several legal nonprofits, immigrant advocacy groups, religious groups, even the Mexican consulate have held DACA renewal workshops.
To assist with the $495 federal processing fee, private donors, individual schools and colleges, and others have contributed funds to help cover applicants' costs. California lawmakers recently committed funding that some legal organizations may apply toward low-income applicants' renewal fees.
A month was not enough time to renew, according to Angela Sanbrano, a board member with the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles. She has helped that organization and others put together DACA renewal workshops in the Pomona area.
"Some people were just hearing about it now," Sanbrano said. "And so I know for a fact that people will be coming tomorrow, or later on, and they will basically be out of luck."
Others would love to renew their DACA for another two years, but can't. Itayu, a 19-year-old college student from Los Angeles' Westlake neighborhood who asked her last name not be used for fear she'll be deported, said Wednesday that her DACA status runs out in May – two months too late to qualify for renewal.
"It's frustrating," said Itayu, who is now pinning her hopes on proposed legislation that seeks to provide young immigrants like her with legal status.
“Yeah, we couldn’t renew our DACA," she said. "But we also have the Dream Act — that is why we are fighting so hard to pass it.”
A series of bills are pending in Congress that aim to provide relief for young unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as minors. One referred to as the 2017 "Dream Act" is the latest with this name that have proposed a path to legal status for these young immigrants if they attend college or join the military.
But there has been little movement in Congress to move the legislation forward. GOP leaders have indicated they'll only support legislation that would provide provisions like tighter immigration rules and enforcement.
Meanwhile, there have been legal challenges to Trump's decision to end DACA, and several lawmakers have been urging the administration to extend the deadline.