Lawyers say some DACA applications rejected
NEW YORK, United States (CMC) | Lawyers say the late delivery by the United States Postal Service has resulted in the rejection of applications to let some young undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants stay and work in the US legally.
Attorneys for applicants to the programme, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), said on Friday that paperwork mailed from New York and other places to meet the October 5 deadline, at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing centre in Chicago, did not arrive on time because of the postal delays.
The New York Times reported that on September 14, Allison Baker, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, sent, via certified mail, a client’s application to renew a DACA permit long before the deadline, but the mail arrived on October 6, a day after the deadline.
Lawyers from across the New York region, in at least 33 other cases, said unusually long Postal Service delays resulted in rejections of DACA applications, throwing the lives of their clients into frantic limbo.
But attorneys in Boston and Philadelphia, which also send their applications to the Chicago processing centre, however, said they have not seen evidence of an issue with the mail.
However, in Chicago, in the backyard of the USCIS, there were at least 21 DACA recipients whose renewals, sent well before the deadline, arrived late, according to US Congressman Luis V Gutiérrez, Democrat of Illinois. He said an applicant sent a renewal on September 13, and it arrived on October 6. Another sent the paperwork on September 21, and it was received on October 9.
“Because somebody else did not do their job correctly we are taking innocent young immigrants and making them deportable,” said Gutiérrez in a statement. “That is unacceptable.” On Thursday, in a rare admission from a US federal agency, the US Postal Service took the blame. David A Partenheimer, a spokesman for the post office, said there had been an “unintentional temporary mail processing delay in the Chicago area.”
But USCIS said nothing more could be done; the decisions were final. “According to USCIS regulations, a request is considered received by USCIS as of the actual date of receipt at the location for filing such request,” said Steve Blando, a spokesman for the agency, in a statement. “USCIS is not responsible for the mail service an individual chooses, or for delays on the part of mail service providers.” He, however, subsequently added, that “USIS is committed to working with the USPS [US Postal Service] to understand and address the USPS error that occurred that delayed the mail.”
Because DACA is an executive order, signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, and not a statute, applicants cannot appeal the decision.
The DACA programme had offered temporary protection and work permits for about 800,000 young adults who had been brought to the United States illegally as children.
In September, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced, after months of speculation, that the Trump administration was cancelling the programme and recipients were allowed to keep their permits until they expired at the end of the current two-year term.