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DACA recipients should renew early, lock in protections, say advocates

"The urgency is still there," says DACA recipient Sheridan Aguirre.
Protesters rally for immigration reform for DACA recipients and a new Dream Act in Los Angeles
Protesters rally for immigration reform for DACA recipients and a new Dream Act in Los Angeles on Jan. 22, 2018.Lucy Nicholson / Reuters file

AUSTIN, Texas — Sheridan Aguirre had been bracing for an end in August to being protected from deportation and being allowed to work in the U.S.

Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court gave him a little time to breathe.

“I thought for me this was going to be my last go around for the program. Thankfully, we have the extra cushion,” said Aguirre, field communications manager in Austin for United We Dream, an advocacy group for young immigrants without permanent legal status.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday took no action on the Trump administration’s attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program known as DACA. Lower courts have kept the program alive and the administration has been trying to get those struck down so it could end DACA.

But the high court essentially kicked the issue down the road to the Supreme Court's next session. Because that doesn't begin until October, DACA renewals can continue for at least another 10 months, barring any action from the administration or Congress.

Tuesday’s “no action” by the court also means word is being sent out to DACA recipients that they should get their renewals in as quickly as possible, even earlier than the recommended five months before expiration.

Because DACA is a two-year program, renewals before a court ruling could mean DACA protections could continue as late as 2021.

Greisa Martinez, United We Dream deputy executive director, said she’ll be getting her application in by next week. Her DACA was set to end in June.

Trump has pulled DACA into his standoff with Democrats over the $5.7 billion he has demanded for his promised wall on the southern border. The government is now in a more than monthlong shutdown, and many federal workers have been working without pay.

Trump has told Democrats he’d reopen government and extend DACA benefits three more years in exchange for the funding and other immigration enforcement demands. So far, Democrats have rejected the offer and immigration advocates have opposed it.

Martinez said the Supreme Court inaction affirmed that “undocumented young people have been right to decline and deny the Trump administration’s false deal he’s put forward.”

But DACA recipients can’t let down their guard, because “all of this is caveated,” Martinez said. At any time the Trump administration could declare an immigration emergency that could stop DACA renewals.

On another front, Aguirre and others say the Supreme Court inaction on the issue means more time to raise money for grants to DACA recipients to pay the $495 renewal application fee. Last year United We Dream gave about $1.5 million to 3,000 DACA recipients to pay their fees.

“The urgency is still there,” Aguirre said. “We have no idea what the Trump administration will do.”