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

Greg Nash

Senate Democrats pressed President Trump 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 Durbin (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. 

“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.

“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.

Tags Coronavirus DACA deferred action for childhood arrivals Dick Durbin Donald Trump Temporary protected status TPS

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