DENVER – U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and one of his Democratic fellow members of Congress are asking the Department of Homeland Security to give some Dreamers leeway to get their immigration statuses in order as DACA is wound-down over the next six months.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Sept. 5 that he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by next March, and gave only some DACA recipients only a month to apply to renew their status.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) specifically said it would only process renewal application before Oct. 5 if the applicants’ DACA statuses expired between Sept. 5 and March 5, 2018.
Coffman on Monday, along with Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., sent a letter to the acting secretary of DHS and the acting director of USCIS asking for some of the wind-down rules to be tweaked to be more helpful to Dreamers.
In the letter, the congressmen ask four things of DHS and USCIS:
- That people whose DACA status expired before Sept. 5 be allowed to apply for another two years of protection;
- That any applications postmarked on or before Oct. 5 be accepted and processed;
- That DHS and USCIS not penalize applications that were rejected for minor, technical errors;
- And that DHS and USCIS provide two-year extensions for people whose DACA status has not yet expired, and to base those extensions off the date their current protections are set to expire.
"These young people, who came out of the shadows to sign up for DACA, did the right thing and the technical fixes that we are proposing will help them as the program winds down," Coffman said.
“DACA participants have already lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years and gone through multiple detailed background checks for the initial application and renewals, so treating those with DACA with respect and compassion is literally the least that USCIS can do until such time as Congress enacts legislation to protect DREAMers permanently,” said Rep. Gutierrez, who was himself arrested Tuesday at a rally against the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA at Trump Tower in New York.
Sessions himself on Tuesday asked so-called “sanctuary cities” to end their policies as his DOJ said it would appeal a federal judge’s decision last week saying the DOJ could not block grant money meant for the cities.
Coffman has changed course and supported DACA in recent years after originally opposing the program.
He’d said he would push a discharge petition that would have forced the House to vote on a measure to extend DACA, but after filing it, made a deal with House Speaker Paul Ryan to hold off on pushing it while Ryan tried to get Republicans together on an immigration reform bill.
“With all the other things going on right now, the debt limit, the appropriations, tax reform, it’s not certainly on the top of the agenda right now,” Coffman told the New York Times afterward.
The move was a chance for Coffman’s Democratic challenger for 2018 in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, Jason Crow, to come after Coffman.
“TWO DAYS. That’s all it took for Coffman to drop DACA and strike a deal w/ Ryan. We need persistence not posturing,” Crow tweeted.
After Coffman’s latest announcement, Crow continued to point at Coffman’s old stances on DACA, saying he’s changed his mind and that he wouldn’t practice “political gamesmanship” if elected to Congress.
"Seven years ago, Congressman Coffman helped create today’s DACA crisis when he called The DREAM Act “a nightmare” and voted against it,” Crow told Denver7. “Now, seven agonizing years later, Coffman’s desperate to position himself as part of the solution – but his Band-Aid proposals and empty rhetoric fall short of solving the crisis that he has helped to create.”
DHS and USCIS had not responded to Coffman’s letter as of Tuesday.