- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Trump administration erroneously rejected about 900 applications sent in by Dreamers to renew their status under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals deportation amnesty, Homeland Security officials told The Washington Times.

That’s in addition to other applications that were mailed in plenty of time but got held up by the postal service, meaning the total number of applications botched by the federal government is even higher.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Homeland Security agency charged with administering the DACA program, said it has sent invitations to the applicants it already knows about, asking them to resubmit their paperwork.

“USCIS has identified approximately 900 DACA requests that were received at a designated filing location by the filing deadline, but were rejected solely for being untimely,” the agency said in a statement.

But immigrant-rights activists are not happy with the agency’s efforts, saying the bungle has only added to the difficulties Dreamers are facing in the Trump administration.

“It’s very disheartening USCIS had so many problems,” said Bruna Bouhid, a spokesperson for United We Dream, which counts hundreds of thousands of Dreamers as members.

She said the Trump administration bungled the decision-making from the start, imposing a tight deadline on renewals.

Homeland Security announced on Sept. 5 that it was phasing out the five-year-old program, which was protecting nearly 700,000 young adult illegal immigrants from deportation and providing them with permission to work in the U.S., letting them gain a foothold in American society.

Under the phaseout, about 150,000 Dreamers whose two-year status was to expire by March 5 were allowed to apply for another two-year renewal, but they had to get their applications in by Oct. 5.

That set off a scramble for tens of thousands of Dreamers to get the nearly $500 application fee and file on time. Under USCIS rules, a postmark wasn’t good enough — the applications needed actually to be in the agency’s hands.

Ms. Bouhid, a Dreamer herself, said she sent in her last renewal six months ahead of time, and said USCIS should have known it couldn’t handle 150,000 applications in such a short period.

“That’s why USCIS is having issues — because the admin put out this ridiculous timeline that doesn’t make sense,” she said.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, as well as a federal judge in New York, had warned the agency to be more lenient. Lawmakers suggested at least accepting applications that had been postmarked by Oct. 5.

USCIS hasn’t agreed to that, but it has given some ground after activists pointed to applications mailed three weeks ahead of time but delivered late. The federal agency said if applicants can prove the postal service was the hangup in their case, they’ll consider allowing those Dreamers to reapply.

The 900 other applications are a different, and more troubling, situation.

USCIS admits it actually received them, but for some reason they were rejected. The agency hasn’t explained the bungle.

It says it’s identified the 900 applications, but acknowledged there could be others it hasn’t spotted. It said Dreamers who believe they got their applications in on time but were rejected for timeliness, and don’t get a new invitation, should also resubmit.

Of the 154,000 people eligible to apply for a DACA renewal, USCIS originally said 133,000 got their paperwork in on time. Another 5,000 submitted late, the agency said in October. That means the 900 of those applications were on time but rejected anyway amounts to a nearly 20 percent error rate.

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