One-quarter of DACA renewals not in on deadline day

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Story highlights

  • 23% of DACA recipients haven't submitted applications for renewals
  • The program protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children

Washington (CNN)Roughly one-quarter of eligible recipients under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have not yet filed to renew their status ahead of Thursday's deadline.

According to data provided by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, as of Thursday, approximately 118,000 out of roughly 154,000 people eligible to renew had filed their application, leaving 36,000 -- roughly 23% -- who still hadn't.
    About 12,000 applications have come in over the past two days, according to CIS figures.
    When President Donald Trump announced the end of the program, known as DACA, a month ago, he put in place a six-month delay on expiring protections by allowing any recipient whose DACA expires by March 5 until Thursday to apply for a two-year renewal.
    Absent congressional action, the program that protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation will begin to end March 5, as the two-year permits of nearly 700,000 active protectees start to expire.
    Democrats have repeatedly implored the Trump administration to extend the deadline, saying one month to gather paperwork -- and the roughly $500 application fee -- is not long enough for those affected.
    The Department of Homeland Security has not sent notifications to DACA recipients about their renewal eligibility or the upcoming deadline. The agency said it has conducted various social media and public awareness efforts.
    Critics also say the administration should make special consideration for DACA recipients in states hit by hurricanes Irma and Harvey, though DHS did announce Tuesday it would make case-by-case decisions for recipients in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands affected by Hurricane Maria.
    The frustration bubbled up at a Senate hearing Tuesday, where Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin cited considerations the Internal Revenue Service was making for Texas, Louisiana and Florida residents.
    "May I implore you, implore you, to do the same thing at DHS that our own Internal Revenue Service is doing," Durbin said to the Homeland Security officials present. "If it's good enough for our tax collectors to have a heart, isn't it good enough for DHS to have a heart?"
    According to data obtained Wednesday, more than 2,600 of eligible recipients in Texas had yet to submit renewals, 28% of the total eligible in that state. In Florida, more than 2,000, or 35% of those eligible, had yet to renew. In the US islands hit by Maria, 16 of the 37 eligible hadn't yet renewed.

    No planned extension

    Trump said he was putting in place the six-month window to give Congress a sense of urgency to put the Obama administration executive action into law. That was still the White House message Thursday, when press secretary Sarah Sanders said there was no planned extension of the deadline for renewals.
    "I'll keep you posted on any announcements on that front," Sanders said. "Right now the President's position has been that he's called on Congress to come up with a permanent solution and a fix to this process to have responsible immigration reform."
    Sanders said the White House was going to "roll out the specific principals" they would like to see in "responsible immigration reform very soon," though she did not give a specific date.
    But little substantive progress has been made.
    Democrats support the bipartisan Dream Act that would protect eligible young immigrants who arrived as children and put them on a path to citizenship. They say they could accept border security as a compromise with it, but insist they will not vote for anything that could put the families and friends of those protected at greater risk of deportation.
    But Republicans are also insistent that any DACA deal must include border security and likely immigration enforcement measures, and the more conservative members of the party are suggesting policies -- like mandatory worker verification, cuts to the legal immigration system and expanded deportation authority -- that would be almost impossible to get Democrats to agree to.
    Any solution would likely have to include Democrats, as they'll be needed for passage in the Senate and to make up for Republicans in the House who would never vote for any DACA deal. But House Speaker Paul Ryan has also pledged not to move any bill that doesn't get the votes of a majority of Republicans, limiting the options.
    A new measure was introduced Thursday by Sen. Jeff Flake, a veteran of comprehensive immigration reform efforts. The Arizona Republican put together a proposed bill that would combine the President's 2018 budget request to start building his wall, some immigration enforcement and eventually permanent protections for only people who had DACA.
    This story has been updated.