Things are getting pathetic when a ‘Dreamer’ plays by the rules but still loses her status and gets fired

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Immigration rally
Immigration advocates hold signs during a press conference where they called on U.S. representatives to back the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship in the upcoming budget reconciliation package at Federal Plaza in the Loop on Aug. 18. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The Biden administration has vowed to end the backlog of DACA renewal requests, yet the U.S. Immigration and Customs Services continues to fail to fix the problem.

For eight days in August, Ana Estrada fell off the cliff for legal status in the United States.

It cost her her job, her vacation time and her health insurance.

To understand why it is imperative that the federal government finally catch up in processing two-year renewal requests under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants protections against deportation for “Dreamers” — young adults who were brought to our country illegally as children — consider the nonsense Estrada had to go through.

She is one of some 30,880 DACA recipients living in Illinois. The United States is the only country she has ever known as home. But when her DACA status expired on Aug. 16, she was dismissed from her job at a warehouse because she instantly was ineligible to work in the U.S.

Estrada regained her legal status just days later, on Aug. 24, when her DACA renewal application finally was approved, and weeks later the warehouse rehired her. But as a “new” employee, she lost the vacation time and free health insurance she previously had earned.

This is nuts. Dreamers like Estrada are playing by the rules but getting kicked around all the same. The Biden administration has vowed to end the backlog of DACA renewal requests, yet the U.S. Immigration and Customs Services has failed to fix the problem for almost a year.

Not only do the delays throw life up for grabs for Dreamers in the short-run; they also make it more difficult for Dreamers to qualify for more permanent family-based and employment-base green cards. Their supposed “unlawful presence” — even if only for a day — goes on their record and is held against them.

Who could help? Maybe your local member of Congress. At the very least, many congressional offices could work more with local immigrant-rights groups to help DACA recipients understand where their applications for DACA renewal status stand.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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October 11, 2021 at 07:47PM

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