Citizenship and Immigration Services will now accept online renewal applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. It’s Obama-era policy that grants some 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children work permits and temporary protection from deportation.
DACA recipients apply to renew their status every two years, a process that costs nearly $500.
Until now, these documents had to be mailed to the agency and getting a response could take months. Phoenix resident Jose Patiño found himself without DACA protection a few years ago when his renewal was delayed.
“I just remember how nervous I was every day, just driving and going to work and checking in with my human resources manager every day, and all that anxiety,” he said. “I never want to go through that again.”
Patiño, who is now director of education and external affairs for the Mesa-based immigrant advocacy group Aliento, says not having an expired DACA status can mean a person is no longer allowed to work or drive in Arizona, and could be subject to deportation. He says that’s why he advises people applying for a renewal to do so as soon as possible. He hopes the new online process will make things safer and easier, and reduce filing errors.
But DACA is still just a temporary status with no path to citizenship. Patiño says he still hopes for a long-term solution from Congress.
Fronteras Desk is a KJZZ project covering significant stories in a span stretching from northern Arizona to northwestern Mexico.