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Phoenix lawmakers urge feds to extend DACA renewal deadline

(AP Photo/Ryan VanVelzer)

PHOENIX — Several high-ranking officials in Phoenix, including Mayor Greg Stanton, asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to extend the renewal deadline for recipients of the Deferred Act for Childhood Arrivals program.

Stanton, along with Vice Mayor Laura Pastor, and Councilmembers Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela, sent a letter Wednesday to Elaine C. Duke, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Trump administration ended the Deferred Act for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, in September, leaving a six-month window to allow Congress to decide whether it wants to write legislation to protect the so-called DREAMers.

DACA was an Obama-era program that granted temporary work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Recipients of the program had until Oct. 5 to renew their status if it expires before March 5, 2018.

But Stanton, Pastor, Gallego and Valenzuela are urging Duke to extend the deadline, calling the current Oct. 5 deadline “arbitrary and capricious and only serves to impose extreme hardship on the thousands of hard-working DACA recipients in our state who will not be allowed DACA renewals.”

The lawmakers also claimed that the “expedited DACA renewal deadline will only hurt Arizona’s economy,” saying rescinding the program could cost Arizona “more than $1.3 billion each year in lost Gross Domestic Product.”

“DACA recipients are young people who contribute so much to the City of Phoenix through their work, entrepreneurial ventures, and artistic expression.

“More importantly, these young women and men — who are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends and valued neighbors — stand to be forced out of the only home they’ve ever known. Phoenix stands with DREAMers in our city, across Arizona and throughout the nation.

“We urge you to act swiftly and use your authority to extend the renewal deadline with input from the public through existing rulemaking procedures,” part of the letter read.

Nearly 800,000 young immigrants had been granted a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S. under the program.

Arizona is home to about 4 percent of all DACA recipients nationwide, with about 25,500 young undocumented immigrants in Arizona enrolled in the program, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data.

In August, Stanton reaffirmed his commitment to the DREAMers, saying that he would stand by them if Trump was to end the program. The Phoenix mayor even donated $10,000 from his campaign funds to help the recipients cover the $495 renewal fee.

A group of senators reintroduced legislation to give those immigrants a path to citizenship in July, but the future of the legislation is unknown.

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