ORLANDO, Fla. – Lawmakers are asking the White House to extend the deadline for young immigrants to apply for the deferred action plan after three back-to-back hurricanes have destroyed homes and lives across the U.S. during a costly first half of the 2017 hurricane season.
Last month, President Donald Trump announced that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which allows children brought to the U.S. before age 16 an exempt status to go to work or school without being deported. The DACA program was set up during President Obama's time in the White House.
Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) sent a letter Monday to acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke seeking an extension to allow people to come up with the money to apply for the DACA status in hurricane-ravaged states and territories. The letter to Duke was also signed by at least 30 other Democratic and independent lawmakers.
Currently, those who wish to apply for DACA have until Oct. 5 to submit their renewal applications, which includes a $495 fee.
“These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day to day living and operations in these states and territories,” the lawmakers wrote. “It would be appropriate for the government to extend the Oct. 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request.”
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have caused billions in damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in the last month.
“An extension of the deadline would provide DACA recipients more time to collect the $495 application fee and gather the necessary documents to accurately complete the renewal application," the group wrote in their letter.
Florida is home to an estimated 33,000 approved DACA recipients as of March of this year, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Migration Policy Institute estimated that 92,000 Floridians could qualify for DACA exemptions.
According to the American Immigration Council, undocumented youths enrolled or eligible for DACA pay about $2 billion each year in state and local taxes. Florida is fifth after California, Texas, New York and Illinois for a majority of that tax revenue.