Senate Democrats press Trump to extend work protections for DACA, TPS recipients amid pandemic

Senate Democrats press Trump to extend work protections for DACA, TPS recipients amid pandemic
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats pressed President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE on Wednesday to extend work authorizations for members of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown Democrats, voting rights groups pressure Senate to approve mail-in voting resources MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee's immigration subpanel, led 37 senators in a letter to the White House warning that the closure of immigration offices during the crisis could make it difficult for immigrants to process renewals under the programs and throw people’s status into jeopardy.

The senators noted renewals for work authorization forms are already backlogged and that immigrants may have difficulties collecting the required information to submit renewal applications as they find themselves under stay-at-home orders. 

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“Your Administration can immediately ease burdens for thousands of American families, and prevent further, unnecessary economic disruptions during this public health emergency by automatically extending employment authorizations for DACA and TPS recipients and other impacted immigrants,” the senators wrote.

The lawmakers also touted the potential economic impacts of having the immigrants protected under the programs in such uncertainty. They estimated that more than 200,000 DACA recipients and 130,000 TPS holders work in jobs deemed “essential,” including more than 50,000 who work in the health care industry.

“We urge you to prioritize our nation’s health, safety, and economic wellbeing as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic,” they wrote.

Trump has repeatedly railed against both programs and has sought to curtail the number of immigrants protected under them.

The president has particularly hammered DACA, casting the program as an overstep by the Obama administration and suggesting, without evidence, that it protects criminals.

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“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from 'angels.' Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway,” he tweeted in November.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill regarding the Democrats’ letter.