A coalition of Latino activist groups wants the Obama administration to back off its threat to rescind deferred status and work permits from those illegal immigrants granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) if they do not return erroneously issued three-year work permits.
“While we understand the Administration finds itself in a sensitive position due to the need to comply with the court-ordered injunction, we have serious concerns about the drastic repercussions DACA recipients will face for failure to return their EADs by the aggressive timeline set out by USCIS,” the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of nearly 40 Latino groups wrote in a letter to DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson last week.
The Obama administration has taken extensive efforts to try to recoup some 2,600 three-year work permits issued in violation of a federal district court’s injunction halting President Obama’s executive amnesty programs — expanded DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). USCIS is simply replacing the three-year permits with the allowable two-year documents.
The presiding judge — Judge Andrew Hanen — has said he will call top Obama immigration officials into court to explain the injunction violations if the agency has not recouped all the erroneously issued three-year work permits to the court’s satisfaction by July 31.
Earlier this month U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it would be conducting home visits to DACA recipients who had not returned the erroneously issued three-year permits and that those who fail to surrender them will be kicked out of the program.
According to NHLA, the government would be punishing the DACA recipients for a government failings.
“Acute embarrassment over an egregious error, even one called out by a federal judge in litigation, is no excuse for draconian and arbitrary government conduct,” Thomas A. Saenz, NHLA Vice Chair and President of Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement. “USCIS can and should approach this problem in a more rational way than setting unreasonable deadlines with severe consequences for failing to meet those deadlines.”
Of particular concern for the activists is what they say is a lack of time to return the work permits which the administration began attempting to recoup earlier this year.
“In the past week, USCIS began implementing an aggressive operation to retrieve those EADs that have yet to be returned. These measures have included follow-up letters, phone calls, home visits to affected DACA recipients, and the issuance of Notifications of Intent to Terminate (NOIT),” the groups’ letter to Johnson reads. “Those who received NOITs were notified in mid-July, and have been instructed to return their EAD to a field office—or during a home visit if one is conducted—before July 30, 2015 to avoid termination of their DACA status, EAD, and to ensure that they do not face or receive negative penalties in a subsequent petition for relief.”
The groups called the two-week window to return the three-year documents “unacceptable” and likely to result in some DACA illegal immigrants missing the deadline. They further said that terminating DACA status for such illegal immigrants “unfairly penalizes DACA holders for the Administration’s error.”
“Punishing DREAMers for a bureaucratic error made by the government is farcical at best, cruel at worst. The government’s sloppiness in handling this matter has the potential to affect the livelihoods of many individuals who depend on their work permits to support themselves and their families,” Hector Sanchez, NHLA Chair and Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, added in a statement.