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DACA deadline for renewal is Thursday

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A major deadline for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, has arrived as the Trump administration continues to press forward in rolling back the Obama-era program for young undocumented immigrants.

Under the program, these immigrants, who entered the U.S. as children have been able to receive renewable two-year deferred action from deportation so that they can work or go to school.

As part of the wind-down process announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month and under the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security, those eligible for DACA had until Thursday to properly file for a renewal request and other associated applications for employment authorization to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

 After Thursday, young undocumented immigrants will not be able to apply for renewal of their DACA status.

According to DHS, eligible individuals are DACA recipients whose DACA and work authorization expire between Sept. 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018, inclusive. Of the approximately 154,200 individuals whose DACA is set to expire between Sept. 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018, just over 106,000 either have renewal requests currently pending with USCIS, or have already had USCIS adjudicate their renewal request.     

Acting Secretary of DHS Elaine Duke released a memo on Wednesday urging all those still eligible to request a renewal of their DACA status as soon as possible if they have not done so already. 

"I urge you to make this a priority. The renewal process is quicker than an initial request and requires minimal documentation, so take the time now to fill out and properly file your renewal request.  It is imperative that USCIS physically receives your request by October 5th," said Duke. 

USCIS has also been frequently updating applicants over social media, urging followers to file their requests in order to get their case adjudicated in time.

But in light of the recent devastation in Puerto Rico, which left millions without power, food or shelter, Duke said she has directed USCIS to consider on a "case-by-case basis DACA requests received from U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico residents."

"As of today, fewer than 20 current recipients from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have yet to renew with USCIS," she added. 

Since the announcement, several lawmakers have made moves on drafting legislation to serve as a temporary fix to the DACA program as the roll back allowed for six months of adjudication, time that Congress could use to develop new immigration laws. 

President Trump hosted a dinner last month with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer which caused an uproar after the two Democrats issued a statement saying they had they had agreed to finalize a law "quickly" that would protect DACA recipients, and that the law would also include border security, "excluding the wall."

Trump faces rebellion from his supporters over DACA

"We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that's acceptable to both sides," they said in their joint statement. 

Mr. Trump later denied that his dinner with the Democrats had resulted in a deal that would address the fate of undocumented immigrants, tweeting "No deal was made last night on DACA," and that the matter would be "subject to vote."

Meanwhile, Republican Senators Thom Tillis, James Lankford and Orrin Hatch unveiled their own immigration reform effort late last month, the SUCCEED Act (Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers Employment Education and Defending our nation), which they called a "fair and compassionate" merit-based solution to issues facing undocumented children currently in the U.S.

The proposed legislation mandates that in order to receive "conditional status" in the U.S., a recipient must be maintaining gainful employment, pursuing higher education or serving in the U.S. military. 

Under the bill, eligibility for protective status includes having arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 years, holding a high school diploma or equivalent, passing an extensive criminal background check, submitting biometric data to the Department of Homeland Security and being able to pay off any existing federal tax liabilities. 

While Tillis critiqued the DREAM Act, which was re-introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin as another avenue for reform, for not being conservative enough, and for the fact that it has "failed every single time," he told reporters that he was open to including Democrats in the immigration bill  conversations.

Per DHS, USCIS will still accept renewal requests from eligible individuals throughout the day but requests must be properly filed and physically received by the agency at proper filing locations.

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