Nurimaro Park, 26, is one of about 800,000 people who had benefited from an Obama-era program that extended protections to immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
While he knew the significance of the protection he received under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, he had one problem. He didn’t have the money to pay the $495 registration fee required to renew his participation in the program for two more years.
Park worked as a private tutor, and money was tight in the late spring and summer months when school was out. He figured he could re-enroll at the end of the year. The rules of the program allowed people to renew lapsed registrations as long as a full year hadn’t passed.
In September, though, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration is phasing out the program. Those who were enrolled in the program would be eligible to file for one last two-year extension if their registration was close to expiring.
But those like Park, whose registration had lapsed, were barred from renewing.
“I had planned to (renew) it, but Trump did not give me enough notice,” Park said at a news conference Tuesday.
Park and Jonathan Alvarenga Recinos, 19, a Salvadoran immigrant, have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, seeking the right to apply for one more two-year extension under the DACA program.
Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, with the Falls Church-based Legal Aid Justice Center, which filed the lawsuit on the men’s behalf, said there have been several lawsuits challenging the decision to end the DACA program, but this is the first focused on the 50,000 people whose registration had lapsed but were still eligible to renew it.
“This is completely unfair,” Sandoval-Moshenberg said. “The government has to give people fair notice that they’re going to change the rules.”
Steve Blando, a spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the DACA program, declined to comment on the lawsuit but confirmed the estimate that about 50,000 of the 800,000 who had ever registered for DACA had failed to renew their status by the time the Trump administration announced plans to phase out the program.
By Associated Press for NBC WASHINGTON
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