Three ex-secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are urging Congress to expedite legislation that will serve as an alternative program for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), warning that the deadline may come sooner than they think.
Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, as well as Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security secretaries under the Obama and Bush administrations, respectively, wrote a letter addressed to Congress—the letter came at a time when legislative leaders and Trump administration officials were set to meet at Capitol Hill to discuss the DACA program.
“We write not only in strong support of this legislation, but to stress that it should be enacted speedily in order to meet the significant administrative requirements of implementation as well as the need to provide certainty for employers and these young people,” wrote the former secretaries.
“For these reasons, the realistic deadline for successfully establishing a Dreamers program in time to prevent large-scale loss of work authorization and deportation protection is only weeks away, in the middle of January.”
The letter continues with the warning that the six months allotted by the Trump administration for the formulation of a substitute program was deliberately set to create the illusion of a seemingly far-away deadline. They argue that proper enactment of a new DREAMers program would entail a series of changes, personnel training, and several other factors that would take months, creating a replacement program that would realistically take effect months after the set deadline.
As the letter states, creating a new program in 45 days would be an incredible accomplishment done in record time.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is an Obama-era executive order designed to protect thousands of undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors. Under DACA, beneficiaries receive deferred action from deportation and are granted temporary work permits that can be renewed every two years, allowing them to go to school, find work, and apply for driver’s licenses.
President Trump issued an order to end the Obama-era immigration program in September last year, despite promising that DREAMers should “rest easy” in an interview with the Associated Press. He then set a timeline allowing Congress to maneuver to provide the potentially displaced immigrants with alternative immigration programs.
As the former secretaries note, legislation is ultimately the only permanent measure to prevent DREAMers from losing work authorization and facing immediate deportation. They urged Congress to create a program to adjudicate a new immigration application system for undocumented immigrants responsibly.
If you, or a loved one, are a DACA recipient concerned about your immigration status, schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm to learn about your constitutional rights. Call our offices today to talk to immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.