CBS News reported that as many as 81,000 first-time applications were backlogged at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as of the end of June. “Additionally, more than 13,000 DACA renewal requests remained under review beyond the 120-day adjudication goal.” While the ruling does for now allow current and former beneficiaries to keep renewing their protections, the continued hits to the program stress the dire need for permanent relief once and for all.
“In today’s meeting with Vice President Harris we reminded her of the urgency of this moment, and what is at stake for millions of undocumented people,” United We Dream Executive Director Greisa Martinez Rosas said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “Last week’s court ruling on DACA was gut wrenching for millions of families, and tens of thousands of immigrant youth who were waiting on deportation reprieve and a work permit now remain in limbo.”
The upcoming budget reconciliation package represents the best chance in many years to win the passage of a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants, as well as farmworkers and temporary status holders. Advocates at the meeting Thursday reminded the vice president that she’s the key to winning that relief.
“After months of pressure from our people-powered movement, Democrats have included a pathway to citizenship in their budget reconciliation,” Martinez Rosas continued. “We made clear the critical role Vice President Harris will play in ensuring that Democrats keep their word and deliver on citizenship this year by casting a historic tie-breaking vote. The reality is that the only way to protect immigrant youth, TPS recipients, farm workers and other essential workers is by passing a pathway to citizenship through reconciliation this year.”
Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, tweeted following the meeting that the vice president “was clear: We have her commitment to fight with all her power to win a path to citizenship through reconciliation. The law has to change to bring justice to immigrants.” Applicant Susie Lujano, 28, told Houston Chronicle that she was “optimistic but also realistic. We have to keep pushing, and that’s why we came here today: We want them to know our faces and our stories and realize we’re human beings, not numbers. We’re not an application or 1, 2, 3, 4. We’re human beings with lives and with children who rely on us to take care of them.”
Congressional Democrats have the power to end this limbo, and as my colleague Joan McCarter recently wrote, there are no more excuses for lawmakers to not act. While we are still waiting for the Senate parliamentarian’s decision on the inclusion of legalization in the reconciliation package, McCarter explained the parliamentarian works for the Senate, not the other way around. “My family has lived in the U.S. for 17 years, not in the shadows, but unprotected,” Diana said according to ABC8 News. “We keep getting let down, again and again.” Can we do better for Diana and many others? We damn well need to.