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“It fell on people like a bag of bricks . . . and it’s only starting to sink in”— NPNA Executive Director Josh Hoyt

NPNA and our partners and allies were interviewed for an article in The Washington Post on the ‘race against time’ facing immigrant rights and community organizations. The October 5 deadline for DACA permit renewals is cruel, arbitrary, and unworkable. Read more:

The clock is ticking on DACA. Here’s how young immigrants and their advocates are fighting back.

The Washington Post
By: Maria Sacchetti
September 9, 2017

President Trump’s decision to wipe out deportation reprieves for young undocumented immigrants has unleashed a frenzied rush to renew 154,000 permits before an Oct. 5 deadline, a process advocacy groups say will cost millions of dollars in fees and stretch their resources to the limit.

In hurricane-ravaged Houston, lawyers are clearing their calendars to help immigrants fill out the forms. In Maryland and Virginia, advocates are holding emergency meetings and recruiting volunteers. Nationwide, immigrants and nonprofits are raising money online to help cover the $495 renewal fees.

“It’s definitely one disaster after another: one of natural causes and one man-made,” said María Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, based in Miami, which was preparing for Hurricane Irma on Friday. “It’s heartbreaking.”

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it will eliminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era executive action that protected hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Nearly 700,000 people have that protection now, government officials said last week. Critics say then- President Barack Obama did not have the authority to create the program when he set it up in 2012, and they say DACA beneficiaries take jobs and other benefits that should go to legal residents.

Those whose deferred-action status is expiring between Sept. 5 and March 5, 2018, have a month to apply to renew their work permits. A successful application would be only a reprieve, valid for two years.

“It fell on people like a bag of bricks . . . and it’s only starting to sink in,” said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans, a coalition of organizations providing legal services to immigrants. “It’s 5,133 [renewal applications] every day, including today. That’s 214 per hour, if we work all night long.”

Advocates are urging Trump to extend the Oct. 5 deadline to give immigrants a chance to raise money to pay the renewal fees — which could surpass a total of $76 million if all those who are eligible apply. They also say that immigrants in Texas and Florida, which have large undocumented populations, could miss the deadline because of the extreme disruption caused by Hurricane Harvey.

“There are whole neighborhoods that are still flooded,” said Leslie Crow, a lawyer with BakerRipley, a Texas nonprofit organization helping immigrants apply for work permit renewals. “People have lost their cars. People have lost all of their belongings. . . . I have heard from a few parents: ‘I have no idea how I’m going to be able to make that payment now.’ ”

In Virginia and Maryland, advocates are mobilizing volunteers to quickly review renewal applications, tapping into a network of lawyers that formed after Trump’s January executive order banning entry to the United States by citizens of certain majority-Muslim countries. The stakes, the advocates say, are high.

“A small clerical error might get their application kicked back, and then they won’t meet the deadline,” said Sirine Shebaya, a lawyer who volunteers with the Dulles Justice Coalition. “It’s an all-hands-on situation.”

Barring action from Congress, thousands of DACA recipients will begin losing their legal status in March. About 200,000 will be phased out of the program in 2018, followed by 320,000 in 2019. The program would cease to exist by 2020, federal officials said Friday.

DACA beneficiaries are bracing for a return to being undocumented, unable to work legally for the first time in five years. Many would lose health insurance, driver’s licenses and other benefits. And they would be at risk of deportation under an administration that is aggressively enforcing immigration laws.

“This is my home. Thinking about not being protected in your own home is very scary,” said Vishal Disawar, a 22-year-old fellow at a tech incubator in Chicago and a citizen of India. His parents brought the family to the United States in 2001, when he was 6, so that his younger sister could undergo heart surgery. Both he and his sister have deferred action; his expires first, sometime next year.

Disawar graduated last year from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after majoring in computer science and political science. He said he feels encouraged that Microsoft and other tech giants are vowing to defend DACA beneficiaries who lose their status, and hopes more people in the program will come forward to share their stories and push for a new reprieve.

DACA beneficiaries and their advocates are fighting battles on multiple fronts: in Congress, the courts, and at the state level, where some are renewing efforts to secure in-state tuition and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, even if they do not have DACA status.

Deferred-action beneficiaries can get driver’s licenses in all 50 states, but only 12 states and the District issue licenses to other undocumented immigrants, according to the National Immigration Law Center. In Texas, for instance, DACA beneficiaries would be unable to renew their driver’s licenses if their status expires, a Department of Public Safety spokesman said.

The most urgent battle is in Congress, where multiple bills are pending to address the situation of young immigrants.

Many advocates are throwing their weight behind the bipartisan Dream Act, which would make1.8 million immigrants — including those in DACA — eligible for conditional residency, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Those who met additional requirements, such as completing their education, could apply for permanent residency and get on a path to U.S. citizenship.

In exchange for a bill to protect young immigrants, Republican lawmakers are likely to push for concessions that would put at greater risk of deportation the rest of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, including the parents of DACA beneficiaries. Trump, meanwhile, has called for funding to expand the wall on the border with Mexico and to hire thousands of additional border patrol agents and personnel to handle deportations.

Advocates for immigrants say they would settle for nothing less than a “clean” Dream Act that would not be tied to immigration enforcement. But critics of illegal immigration — and some lawmakers — have called that position unreasonable.

“I know they don’t want that, but the whole rationale for DACA was that they didn’t have any choice in the matter,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tougher enforcement. “The parents did not grow up here and did have a choice.”

Trump has sent mixed signals on the deferred-action beneficiaries. During the presidential campaign, he vowed to end the program immediately on taking office. But he acted only months after entering the White House, after Texas and several other states threatened to sue the administration to take action on DACA.

After Tuesday’s announcement, Trump reassured young immigrants on Twitter that they would be safe from deportation during the next six months and urged Congress to pass a law to permanently resolve their status. Otherwise, he said he would “revisit” the issue.

On Friday, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), said he was hopeful that Congress would pass the Dream Act, which has not cleared both houses since it was introduced 16 years ago. He acknowledged that a law that would protect only young immigrants brought here as children would be difficult for DACA beneficiaries to swallow, since their parents would remain at risk of deportation.

But he said they should take one battle at a time.

“You are the most beloved, the most cared for, the most recognized of our immigrants,” he said Friday. “What chance do I have for your mom and dad if I lose you?”

Today, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, informing her of our disappointment in the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind DACA, and pressing for an extension for the DACA permit renewal to at least January 15, 2018, rather than the current unworkable deadline of October 5, 2017. The letter is supported by NPNA’s 31 member and 16 affiliated organizations.

Here’s the full letter:

September 11, 2017

Dear Acting Secretary Duke,

We are writing to express our profound disappointment at the administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to urgently request a meeting. Although we deeply disagree with the decision to terminate DACA, we write about one aspect in the implementation of this decision. At NPNA we believe that the decision to require all DACA recipients whose permission expires in the next six months to have their renewal submitted by October 5 is a deadline that is arbitrary, unworkable, and cruel. It will result in tens of thousands of current DACA holders losing their legal status, protections from deportation, and ability to work legally and contribute to our nation. We ask to meet with you to discuss several policy recommendations concerning the implementation of this decision.

The National Partnership of New Americans (NPNA) is composed of 37 immigrant and refugee advocacy organizations across the United States with a long history of working with your department. Our members provide a range of immigrant integration services, from financial literacy and language training to workforce development and naturalization. Our mission is to promote and enhance immigrant integration economically, linguistically, socially, and civically into the fabric of our country.

As a result of the administration’s decision, close to 800,000 DACA recipients now face an uncertain future. 97% of DACA beneficiaries are employed or in school, paying taxes, and contributing to our economy. Ending it will cost an estimated 700,000 jobs and over $2 billion a year in tax revenue. It will force highly productive, skilled workers underground, harming US businesses and impoverishing our communities. This is why DACA has overwhelming support among employers, educators, political and faith leaders, and voters. The decision to rescind DACA is disruptive to our economy and devastating to these youth who have done nothing wrong.

As you know, DACA was instituted by the previous administration as a band-aid solution until Congress found the will to act. While we understand your desire to push Congress to act on this matter, relying on Congress to address the impact of the DACA rescission does nothing to address the immediate impact and significant burden of the October 5th deadline on current DACA recipients, their families and their employers and those legal and community organizations working to support them.”

According to USCIS, 154,000 DACA beneficiaries have expiration dates between September 5, 2017 and March 5th, 2018. Your recent announcement gives all 154,000 of these youth until October 5, 2017 to submit their DACA renewal applications. The artificial October 5 deadline to submit 154,000 DACA renewal applications is unworkable and impractical. It will result in tens of thousands of current DACA holders missing the deadline due to lack of information, resources, or legal capacity to assist with application renewals. There are many practical reasons to extend the deadline, allowing a public information campaign to properly inform the youth of this sudden and unexpected change.

The actual effect of this Oct. 5 deadline is that there must be 5,433 applications filed every single day, including weekends, if the 154,000 current DACA holders whose permissions expire over the next six months are to be able to apply to renew their DACA. This would mean 214 applications must be filed every single hour, all night long, for 30 days. This is a very limited timeline for organizations like ours to locate and inform these DACA youth and assist them. Many DACA recipients will not have saved for the unexpected $495 expense. The October 5 deadline is simply unworkable.

The result of this impractical deadline is that tens of thousands of DACA recipients will lose their status, their jobs, their homes, and their security and be pushed back into the shadows from which they had once proudly emerged.

In the wake of this decision NPNA respectfully requests that the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

1) Meet with NPNA leadership and immigration advocates to discuss the implementation of the policy change;

2) Extend the deadline for deferred action renewal to, minimally, January 5, 2018;

3) Inform each DACA recipient across the country, by registered letter, of the change in U.S. policy and of registration requirements and deadlines; and,

4) Establish tables at all DHS / USCIS offices for the final week before the deadline, to receive completed DACA Applications with time stamps and receipts, to facilitate renewal submission and minimize chaos during the final crush before the deadline.

Given the devastating consequences of the October 5 deadline for DACA renewal applications we urge you to respond to these requests in an expedited manner, and look forward to engaging with you and your colleagues on this critical issue.

Respectfully submitted,

NPNA Executive Committee

Eva Millona, Executive Director, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition;
Co-Chair, National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)
Steven Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)
Co-Chair, National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)
Angelica Salas, Executive Director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Rich Stolz, Executive Director, OneAmerica, Washington State
Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director, National Partnership for New Americans


CC: Mr. James McCament, Acting Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
CC: Ms. Veronica Venture, Acting Officer, DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL)



NPNA Member Organizations supporting this letter:

NPNA Member Organizations

Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice
Arkansas United Community Coalition
CASA (MD, PA, VA, DC)
Causa (OR)
Center for Popular Democracy (CPD)
Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC)
Comunidades Unidas (UT)
El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos (NM)
Florida Immigrant Rights Coalition (FLIC)
Global Cleveland (OH)
Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA)
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)
Junta for Progressive Action (CT)
Latin American Coalition (NC)
Maine People’s Alliance
Make the Road (NY, NJ, PA)
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) (NH, MA)
Michigan United
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
Nebraska Appleseed
New York Immigration Coalition
OneAmerica (WA)
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition
Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada
Promise Arizona
Somos Un Pueblo Unido (NM)
Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC)
Texas Organizing Project
The Resurrection Project (IL)
Voces de la Frontera (WI)

Affiliated Immigrant Rights Coalitions

Consejo de Federaciones Mexicianas (COFEM) (CA)
Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN) (CA)
Sunflower Community Action (KS)
Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA)
Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR)
Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN)
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI)
Montana Organizing Project (MOP)
New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrant Rights (NHAIR-MIRA)
El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos
Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) (OR)
Workers Defense Project (TX)
WashingtonCan!
People’s Action
Center for Community Change
Movement of Immigrants in America (MIA)
October 28, 2016

USCIS Unveils New Fee Rule

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2016
Contact: Jonathan Lazatin, jonathan@partnershipfornewamericans.org

USCIS Unveils New Fee Rule, Including NEW Partial Fee Waiver for Naturalization

1 million working poor can now afford to become U.S. citizens.

U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a final rule adjusting the fees required for most immigration applications and petitions. The new fees will be effective December 23, 2016. The fee rule has been made final after USCIS reviewed stakeholder feedback, including from NPNA and its members, during the 60-day public comment period for the proposed rule published.

The new fee rule establishes a three-level fee for application for naturalization (Form N-400). The standard fee will increase from $680 to $725 (including biometrics). USCIS will introduce a partial fee waiver that will apply to applicants with household incomes between 150-200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, or between $36,000-$48,000 per year (for a household of four). The full fee waiver for applicants with household incomes under 150 percent of poverty will remain in effect. Professor Manuel Pastor, Director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant  Integration (CSII) at the University of Southern California, estimates that there are 1 million legal immigrants who will be eligible for the new partial naturalization fee waiver, and 2.7 million immigrants who are eligible for the full naturalization fee waiver.

“This new partial fee waiver, with the full waiver that has been in effect, will allow 3.7 million poor and working poor legal permanent residents to be able to become U.S. citizens and become full participants of our nation. Citizenship should not be a privilege limited to the wealthy and highly educated. This is an important step forward for our democracy,” said Eva Millona, NPNA Co-Chair and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition.

NPNA applauds USCIS’s introduction of a partial fee waiver. We have long advocated for a partial waiver that would apply to those earning 150-250 percent of federal poverty guidelines. NPNA has commissioned research from CSII at USC and the Center for American Progress, hosted summits at the White House on the barriers to naturalization for the working poor, and engaged in vigorous advocacy for five years to win this fight. We are grateful to our partners and allies in this work including SEIU, UNITE HERE, AFL-CIO, UFCW, Mi Familia Vota, the New Americans Campaign, the Naturalization Working Group, Cities for Citizenship, and Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

NPNA remains deeply concerned about some of the forthcoming fee increases. We are particularly disappointed with the increase to the application for citizenship certificate (Form N-600). The application will now cost $1,170. USCIS provides no explanation for the near doubling of the already exorbitant fee for this Form. 

Fee Increase Infographicsmall

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 23, 2016

Contact

Jonathan Lazatin, jonathan@partnershipfornewamericans.org

 

Supreme Court decides against five million, immigrant rights movement to fight for comprehensive reform 

The fight for immigration reform and justice for immigrant families will continue

CHICAGO—Today, in a 4-4 affirmation of the 5th Circuit Court’s decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against our families and against President Obama’s sensible, humane executive actions to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and to allow them to work freely in this country.

The Court’s ruling is disappointing and comes at a time when we must fight even harder than before to ensure the safety of our communities and to fight hate and racism. Our movement has fought to win the deferred action programs, and we have been working tirelessly to build capacity to implement them. NPNA and member groups have assisted thousands secure relief. This ruling not only deepens fear and separation among millions of Americans, but it also leaves another $2.1 billion in taxes the table, that could have added to the already $11.6 billion in state and local taxes that undocumented immigrants provide.

Through this setback, our work continues. We will continue to fight for a more vibrant, just, and welcoming America– and against attacks on our communities.

“NPNA and member groups have worked tirelessly to expand the capacity to bring relief to our families,” said María Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition and NPNA Board Member. “Today’s ruling is a setback for millions of American families, but we will continue to fight for our communities to dismantle the detention and deportation machine that comes at such a high moral and financial cost”

“We are outraged that the Supreme Court decided to neglect the safety and unity of millions in our community,” said Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and NPNA Board Member. “We know the law is on our side and now we must move forward and fight for real reform. We’re families, workers, students and we are proud to contribute to this nation.”

The President’s proposed programs were consistent with decades of actions taken by presidents of both parties. Additionally,the Supreme Court explicitly stated in 2012 that the federal government has “broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration” under the Constitution.

DACA, introduced in 2012, currently provides relief and work authorization to 750,000 undocumented young people. The unfreezing of DAPA and expanded DACA programs could have allowed over five million to access similar relief. 2012 DACA is not affected by today’s decision. All who are eligible should continue to apply for DACA and to renew it if they already have.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 27, 2016

Contact

Jonathan Lazatin, jonathan@partnershipfornewamericans.org

28 Percent Spike in Citizenship

CHICAGO – Today the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released data for the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2016 (January-March 2016). The data shows a 27.7 percent increase in applications received by USCIS relative to the same quarter of FY 2015. This also represents a 34.4 increase in applications over quarter 1 of FY 2016 (October-December 2015). In total, USCIS has received 439,889 citizenship applications in FY 2016. If this rate continues (overall 2016 numbers are 21.7 percent higher than 2015), then we will see 952,8000 new citizens and potential voters this year

The naturalization process generally takes five months from start to finish. Applicants undergo a background check and must pass an exam, conducted in English, on U.S. civics and history unless they qualify for a waiver. 

NPNA participated, during the same period, in the “Stand Up to Hate” campaign, convened by the National Partnership for New Americans in partnership with SEIU, Latino Victory Foundation, Mi Familia Vota, UNITE HERE, iAmerica and UFCW along with Congressman Luis Gutierrez. The campaign aimed to support eligible green card holders to become citizens in order to vote in November’s election. The campaign held 305 workshops across the country, engaging over 500,000 by educating them on the application process and directly assisting 12,781 to complete the application itself.

“The community is feeling the urgency to become citizens. In Colorado we’ve seen unprecedented turnout at our workshops. People are motivated by the current political climate,” said Julien Ross, Executive Director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) and NPNA Board Member.

ICYMI, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah recently did a hilarious segment on the Stand Up to Hate naturalization efforts. They feature Chicago based organizations The Resurrection Project, Southwest Organizing Project, and Erie Neighborhood House. 

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NPNA is harnessing the collective power and resources of the country’s 37 largest regional immigrant rights organizations in 30 states.

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