BOISE - Thursday is the deadline for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or, DACA, recipients to renew their eligibility.
The "Dreamers," as they are called, were illegally brought to the U.S. as children.
The Trump administration gave Dreamers 30 days to reapply if their protective status expires on or before March 18 after getting rid of the program in September.
During the 30-day renewal period, local agencies like Schafer Law Firm and Concordia University of Law have offered their services free of charge to anyone looking to renew their status.
With 3,000 DACA recipients living in Idaho, Leo Morales, director of Idaho’s ACLU, estimates many missed the opportunity.
“I would say that there are many that didn't go through this process and the reality is that not many qualified as well,” says Morales.
For Dreamers who did renew their eligibility, their protected status will only last for the next two years.
Those who didn't could face deportation much sooner.
“For individuals that have protective status their protective status remains until their visa expires," Morales said. "Once their visa expires they essentially go back to the original status, which is they are living here without documentation, which then makes them eligible for deportation>'
Some people ask: Why don't Dreamers just become citizens?
Morales says it's a process that can take decades.
“Depending on what country they come from it can take upwards of 20 years to get that LPR status," he said. "And on top of that, in order to apply for citizenship you add another five years to be eligible for citizenship, so seriously it could take up to 25 years for someone to become a citizen on the current system we have."
Congress has five months left to come up with a permanent solution, or else all Dreamers may face deportation.
“What's devastating in this situation is that these young men and women call this country their home, and to now be put in potential process of deportation that could land them in a country they're not familiar with because all they are familiar with is our community here where they live,” Morales said.
As of Wednesday evening, 118,000 renewal requests had been submitted to the Department of Homeland Security. Those numbers could still go higher because of what DHS spokesman David Lapan described as a “surge of applications received recently."
Lawmakers in both parties had asked the Department of Homeland Security to extend the deadline to DACA recipients who were hit by the recent string of hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.
DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke allowed for a case-by-case consideration for DACA renewal requests for people in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but the department did not budge on the other locations.
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