Letter to Mr. Leon Rodriguez, Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service - Castro Leads Call for USCIS to Address DACA Renewal Backlog


Dear Director Rodriguez:

In 2012, President Obama announced the launch of the highly successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In the four years since the launch of DACA, nearly 750,000 young people have benefited from the program, and these young folks have, in turn, made important economic and social contributions not only to their families and communities, but to our nation as a whole. We appreciate the important work that USCIS has done to ensure that this program continues to be successful.

As you are aware, USCIS is currently experiencing extensive delays in processing DACA renewals for some DACA applicants.

In August, USCIS announced that DACA applicants who submitted a request for DACA renewal between February 14 and May 14, 2016 may have experienced delays in their renewal request. This has negatively affected several hundred DACA applicants, including individuals in our districts.

These renewals are critical for young folks attending college, serving as Teach for America instructors, working on their dissertations, and many others working and helping to support themselves and their families. This delay causes many of these young people stress and concern that they may lose their job, scholarships, fellowship program or be deported.

It is our understanding that the vast majority of these students submitted their DACA renewal request in the time frame USCIS advises, however a "technical problem" at USCIS has led to this significant backlog. Additionally, many applicants have been unable to get help or updates on the status of their renewal with only days left before their DACA status expires. Others have had their DACA status expire and have had to take a leave of absence from their jobs.

We request prompt response to the following questions:

1. How many DACA renewals are currently backlogged? How many DACA applicants have lost their DACA status because of USCIS delays?
2. What will USCIS do if a renewal is not granted in time? Will steps be taken to prevent the loss of scholarships, loss of employment, or deportation? Will USCIS supply letters to universities or employers explaining the delay?
3. Are there plans to extend the current DACA status of impacted students until the DACA renewal request is granted or denied?
4. What can be done to alleviate the backlog that USCIS is currently experiencing?
5. What was the nature of the "technical problem," and is USCIS taking steps to ensure that it will not reoccur?
6. Will the "accrual of unlawful presence" affect students' DACA applications or citizenship applications in the future?

We recognize the important work that USCIS is doing to ensure the continued success of this program and look forward to your response.