Trump should be taking new DACA applications, not just renewals, groups insist

According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, more than 300,000 youth are eligible to apply for DACA for the first time.
People rally outside the Supreme Court as oral arguments are heard in the case of President Trump's decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Nov. 12, 2019.
People rally outside the Supreme Court as oral arguments are heard in the case of President Trump's decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Nov. 12, 2019.Alex Brandon / AP

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By María Peña, Noticias Telemundo

WASHINGTON - The federal government is processing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals renewals, but not accepting new applications for the deportation relief program, adding to a mix of confusion over President Donald Trump's intentions on immigration.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that Trump wrongly tried to shut down DACA, as the Obama-era program is known. But the court's justices also left room for Trump to try another route to kill the program, which Trump has said he'll do.

Meanwhile, Trump has said he wants to give DACA recipients a path to citizenship through an executive order.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank, insists Trump is not complying fully with the Supreme Court's decision. CAP said in a statement the ruling requires the administration to restore the entire DACA program, including accepting new DACA applications. The immigrant advocacy group United We Dream has also demanded the administration accept new applications.

In a July 14 letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, a group of U.S. Senators said the recent Supreme Court decision "requires your immediate compliance."

According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, more than 300,000 youth are eligible to apply for DACA for the first time.That includes more than 55,000 immigrants who over the last three years have reached the age of eligibility for DACA.

Immigration advocates say the court ruling returned DACA to where it was before Trump announced his cancellation on September 5, 2017.

DACA provides qualifying immigrants who lack permanent legal status protection from deportation and allows them to work and study here.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that oversees DACA applications, said it is renewing permits from DACA "due to court orders," but "is not accepting applications from individuals who have never before received" this protection from deportation.

Justice and Homeland Security departments are reviewing the Supreme Court's decision, said a USCIS spokesman, who spoke on condition he not be named.

USCIS Deputy Director for Political Affairs Joseph Edlow has condemned the Supreme Court ruling, arguing that it lacks a legal basis and that it offers an undeserved "amnesty" to immigrants.

Just over 650,000 undocumented youth are covered by DACA, a dwindling number because many have quit out of fear, have given up or have adjusted their immigration status through marriage or sponsorship from their employers.

Activists and experts consulted by Noticias Telemundo said DACA beneficiaries should continue renewing their permits.

"We anticipate that Trump will try to overturn DACA again, but we don't know if that decision will comply with what the Supreme Court asked for, or if it will be challenged in court," said Laurence Benenson, deputy vice president for immigration policy at the National Immigration Forum.

"I think it will be difficult, at this stage of the electoral calendar, for Congress to achieve a great immigration agreement that permanently resolves the situation of the Dreamers," he added.

The Senate has yet to debate a measure passed by the House of Representatives in 2019 to give legal status to younger undocumented immigrants, who often call themselves Dreamers.

Nathalie Rayes, president of the Latino Victory Fund, stated that, taking into account Trump's attacks and policies against immigrants, "there is no reason to believe that he will keep his word."

"The only safeguard we can give Dreamers is to vote for Joe Biden in November," she added.

An earlier version of this story was first published in Noticias Telemundo.

Follow NBC Latino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Suzanne Gamboa contributed.