Colorado urges automatic extension of DACA authorizations during pandemic

Gov. Jared Polis sent a letter Tuesday urging the federal government to automatically extend work authorizations set to expire this year for all Deferred Action Childhood Arrival recipients, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

The Obama-era policy allows eligible immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children to receive a renewable two-year authorization to study and work in the country without fear of being deported. Nearly 15,000 “Dreamers” have benefited from the program in Colorado since 2012, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“Coloradans face unprecedented challenges to their economic and social lives, and this extension would provide some needed stability to our businesses and residents who benefit from opportunities that DACA provides,” Polis wrote in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf.

The governor’s request comes amid concerns about immigrants getting access to services and information they need during a nationwide pandemic.

Polis commended the federal department for using previous biometrics data to continue processing of certain employment authorization requests because of the closure of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices to the public since March 18. But he asked Wolf to take it “a step further” as unemployment numbers hit historic highs and universities and colleges shut down campuses, leaving students unable to get the legal assistance they usually provide.

“These realities create difficulties for DACA recipients to submit renewals in a timely fashion, despite the actions you have taken thus far,” he wrote.

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