Potentially dozens of applicants were unable to renew their work permits as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program because the post office delivered their applications late, the New York Times reported Friday.
David A. Partenheimer, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said there had been an “unintentional temporary mail processing delay in the Chicago area” where the regional processing warehouse for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is located.
In one case, a New York lawyer mailed her client’s application to USCIS on Sept. 14—weeks before the Oct. 5 deadline. After “mysterious” rerouting and holding patterns, the application was delivered on Oct. 6 and rejected.
“According to lawyers from across the New York region, in at least 33 other cases, unusually long Postal Service delays resulted in rejections of DACA applications,” the Times reported.
Despite the post office taking the blame, the USCIS said nothing could be done for the applicants whose applications arrived late.
“USCIS is not responsible for the mail service an individual chooses, or for delays on the part of mail service providers,” a spokesman for the agency wrote in a statement.
Since DACA is an executive order and not a statute, applicants are not able to appeal rejections. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, (D-Ill.) said it is “unacceptable” that the agency will not budge on the issue.
“Because somebody else did not do their job correctly, we are taking innocent young immigrants and making them deportable,” Gutiérrez said in a statement.
The DACA program had offered temporary protection from deportation and work permits for approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children. President Donald Trump’s administration ended the program in September, provoking protests nationwide.
According to the Times, “132,000 DACA applications were received on time, and 4,000 arrived late; 154,000 people were eligible to apply for renewal.”
“You can’t put the burden on the applicant to ensure the government agencies did their job,” said Camille Mackler, director of legal initiatives for the New York Immigration Coalition. “Can you imagine if the IRS didn’t pick up their mail for two weeks and you get a penalty because of it?”
H/T New York Times
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