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WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the wake of three massive storms that have disrupted the day-to-day lives of millions of people in the United States, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) along with 36 of their U.S. Senate colleagues called on the Trump administration to extend the crucial Oct. 5 deadline for Dreamers to renew their DACA status.

The group made the request in a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke.

“These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day-to-day living and operations in these states and territories,” the lawmakers wrote. “It would be appropriate for the government to extend the October 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request.”

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program which allows some immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 to work and go to school without the fear of being deported.

In ending the program, the administration is allowing some Dreamers currently enrolled to apply for a renewal. Those renewal applications and a $495 fee must be received by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by Oct. 5, and the lawmakers fear the recent disruptions caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria could make it nearly impossible for some eligible Dreamers to meet the deadline.

“Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still working to recover and will be for some time,” the lawmakers wrote. “An extension of the deadline would provide DACA recipients more time to collect the $495 application fee and gather the necessary documents to accurately complete the renewal application.”

According to the USCIS, tens of thousands of DACA recipients live in areas impacted by the storms.

Sens. Murray and Cantwell, along with Reps. Adam Smith (WA-9) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), recently held a press conference at Bellevue College with Dreamers, urging Republicans to work with Democrats on a legislative fix to make the DACA program permanent and end the uncertainty for DACA recipients. More than 17,800 DACA recipients live in Washington state. The Democratic members of Washington state’s congressional delegation also sent a letter to President Trump on September 5th urging him to reconsider his reckless decision to repeal DACA and ensure that Dreamers’ application information is not used for immigration enforcement.  

In addition to Sens. Murray and Cantwell, the letter was signed by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Following is the text of the lawmakers’ letter, and a PDF copy is available here:   

 

September 25, 2017

 

The Honorable Elaine Duke

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security

3801 Nebraska Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20528

 

Dear Acting Secretary Duke:

We are writing to request that you extend the current October 5, 2017 deadline for individuals to submit appropriate applications to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for renewals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program.

On September 5, 2017, the Administration announced the end of the current DACA program. According to that announcement, the government will continue to accept DACA renewal applications until October 5, 2017, for individuals whose current DACA status expires by March 5, 2018.

As you know, in the last month, several major hurricanes made landfall in the Unites States. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated Texas and Florida. Hurricane Maria recently crippled Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island without electricity. The hurricanes took lives, flooded communities, ruined homes and businesses, and displaced thousands. These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day to day living and operations in these states and territories. Volunteers from across the country have poured in to help with relief efforts, and millions of Americans have family and friends living in the affected areas. According to the latest data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), tens of thousands of DACA recipients live in areas impacted by the storms, and DACA recipients served as first responders in the rescue and recovery efforts. Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still working to recover and will be for some time.

In particular in light of these events, it would be appropriate for the government to extend the October 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request. An extension of the deadline would provide DACA recipients more time to collect the $495 application fee and gather the necessary documents to accurately complete the renewal application. We appreciate that the government has extended other filing deadlines due to the storms.

Thank you for your timely consideration of this request, as we continue to work on enshrining permanent protections for Dreamers into law.

Sincerely,