Thursday, November 23, 2017
Nation & World

Post office fails to deliver on time, and DACA applications get rejected

RECOMMENDED READING


The paperwork was mailed from New York in plenty of time. On Sept. 14, Allison Baker, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, sent a client’s application to renew a permit that would let him stay and work in the United States legally as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — long before the Oct. 5 deadline. It was sent certified mail to be safe.

Tracking data from the U.S. Postal Service shows the envelope arriving in Chicago on Sept. 16 on its way to the regional processing warehouse of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that administers the program known as DACA.

Then the packet started circling Chicago in a mysterious holding pattern. From Sept. 17 to 19, it was "in transit to destination." Then its tracking whereabouts disappeared until Oct. 4. Once again, it was "on its way."

On Oct. 6, a day too late, it was delivered. And the application, for a 24-year-old man who asked to be identified only as José because his legal status was uncertain, was rejected.

José was not alone. According to lawyers from across the New York region, in at least 33 other cases, unusually long Postal Service delays resulted in rejections of DACA applications, throwing the lives of their clients into frantic limbo. Lawyers in Boston and Philadelphia, which also send their applications to the Chicago processing center, say they have not seen evidence of an issue with the mail.

But in Chicago, in the back yard of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, there were at least 21 DACA recipients whose renewals, sent well before the deadline, arrived late, according to Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill. An applicant sent a renewal Sept. 13 and it arrived Oct. 6. Another sent the paperwork Sept. 21, and it was received Oct. 9. "Because somebody else did not do their job correctly, we are taking innocent young immigrants and making them deportable," Gutiérrez said. "That is unacceptable."

On Thursday, in a rare admission from a federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service took the blame. David A. Partenheimer, a spokesman for thePostal Service, said there had been an "unintentional temporary mail processing delay in the Chicago area."

But the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency said nothing more could be done; the decisions were final.

"According to USCIS regulations, a request is considered received by USCIS as of the actual date of receipt at the location for filing such request," Steve Blando, a spokesman for the agency, wrote in a statement. He added: "USCIS is not responsible for the mail service an individual chooses, or for delays on the part of mail service providers."

He later added, though, that "USCIS is committed to working with the USPS to understand and address the USPS error that occurred that delayed the mail."

Because DACA is an executive order, signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, and not a statute, applicants cannot appeal the decision. Still, immigrants and their advocates viewed the agency’s unwillingness to revisit the cases as harsh and unfair.

"You can’t put the burden on the applicant to ensure the government agencies did their job," said Camille Mackler, director of legal initiatives for the New York Immigration Coalition. "Can you imagine if the IRS didn’t pick up their mail for two weeks and you get a penalty because of it?"

The DACA program had offered temporary protection and work permits for about 800,000 young adults who had been brought to the United States illegally as children.

On Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced after months of speculation that the Trump administration was canceling the program.

According to an Oct. 18 deposition of an immigration official conducted as part of a federal lawsuit in Brooklyn, 4,000 DACA applications arrived late. Some 154,000 people were eligible to apply for renewal and 132,000 applications were received on time.

Comments
Zimbabwe’s incoming leader returns home to cheers

Zimbabwe’s incoming leader returns home to cheers

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Poised to become Zimbabwe’s next president, a former confidant of ousted leader Robert Mugabe on Wednesday promised "a new, unfolding democracy" and reached out to the world, saying international help is needed to rebuild the shatt...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Unrepentant Mladic sentenced to life for Bosnia atrocities

Unrepentant Mladic sentenced to life for Bosnia atrocities

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An unrepentant Ratko Mladic, the bullish Bosnian Serb general whose forces rained shells and snipers’ bullets on Sarajevo and carried out the worst massacre in Europe since World War II, was convicted Wednesday of genocide an...
Updated: 8 hours ago
The day the pastor was away and evil came barging into his church

The day the pastor was away and evil came barging into his church

On any other Sunday, Frank Pomeroy, the pastor at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, would have been in the pulpit. He would have seen the gunman, his steely gaze familiar, barge in mid-sermon. He would have heard the gunfire break ou...
Published: 11/22/17
President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list

President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list

Sexual misconduct by powerful men has all but taken over the news, with Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and senatorial hopeful Roy Moore, R-Ala., among the politicians on this growing list.President Donald Trump vociferously...
Published: 11/22/17
Two Texas churches, linked by tragedy amid the pews

Two Texas churches, linked by tragedy amid the pews

DAINGERFIELD, Texas — James Long Jr. traced his hand on the vestibule wall inside the old yellow brick church here. He was trying to find the bullet marks.A gunman had burst into the sanctuary on a Sunday morning in June 1980 as the congregation was ...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Bucking his party, Trump defends Roy Moore’s denials (w/video)

Bucking his party, Trump defends Roy Moore’s denials (w/video)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump broke with leading Republicans Tuesday and voiced support for Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama who has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers and has seen his campaign’s prospects imp...
Published: 11/21/17
Trump’s visit to Florida met with protests over immigration decision for Haitians

Trump’s visit to Florida met with protests over immigration decision for Haitians

South Florida community leaders Tuesday decried the Trump administration’s decision to return nearly 60,000 Haitians to their quake-ravaged homeland, calling it "heartbreaking" and "shameful" while vowing that their fight has just begun."We all know ...
Published: 11/21/17
Macron takes Europe’s center stage while Merkel falters

Macron takes Europe’s center stage while Merkel falters

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron looks like the last, best hope to salvage a unified Europe, as Britain drifts away and Germany bogs down. The role of knight in shining armor is one Macron relishes, whether he’s standing up to President Donal...
Published: 11/21/17
FBI: Border agent’s death a ‘potential assault’

FBI: Border agent’s death a ‘potential assault’

DALLAS — An FBI official said Tuesday that the bureau is investigating the death of a Border Patrol agent and severe injuries to another as "potential assault," but he wouldn’t rule out that they could have been hurt in some other way. Special Agent ...
Published: 11/21/17
Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years

Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who once vowed to rule for life, resigned on Tuesday, succumbing to a week of overwhelming pressure from the military that put him under house arrest, lawmakers from the ruling party and oppositi...
Published: 11/21/17