The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security revealed during an oversight hearing Tuesday that she didn’t know that thousands of DACA recipients had already lost their status as a result of President Donald Trump ending the program on Sept. 5.
“No one has lost their status,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said, incorrectly. “No one will lose their status until March 5 or later.”
Contrary to frequent and incorrect reporting that DACA will end on March 5, young people whose work authorizations expired before then actually began losing DACA status after Oct. 5 of last year, the Trump administration’s new deadline to reapply to renew one’s authorization. Many more DACA recipients were ineligible to renew their DACA applications in the first place, because their work permits expired after March 5.
A federal judge halted the end of DACA on Jan. 9, but the move left thousands of DACA recipients in limbo.
The government did very little to notify DACA recipients of the Oct. 5 deadline, as Vox reported, and even some DACA recipients who thought they’d applied for renewal in time found that their applications had been delayed in the mail, according to the New York Times.
Estimates vary as to how many DACA recipients have so far been left out in the cold: The Hill reported on Jan. 10 that 15,000 people had lost their status since Sept. 5, citing unnamed immigration activists. Sen. Dianne Feinstein used the same number last week. According to the Center for American Progress’ running estimate, 16,166 have lost DACA status between Sept. 5 and Tuesday.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) explained the situation to Nielsen, who had earlier claimed incorrectly that only DACA recipients who had been convicted of crimes had lost their status.
“DACA participants had to renew their status and only those whose status expired at a certain time frame were allowed to renew after the ending of DACA was announced,” she said. “So there were thousands of participants in DACA who were already on renewal status, and so they couldn’t apply for renewal. These are the young people who have lost DACA status, 15,000 of them. Take my word for it.”
“Are you creating an expedited procedure for them to have their DACA status restored?” she asked.
“I will get back to you on that, ma’am,” Secretary Nielsen said. “I am not familiar with 15,000 who have lost their status. As I understand it, the program ends March 5.”