Washington should reconsider DACA plans

Here’s a twisted scenario.

In September, President Donald Trump announced the coming suspension of an Obama-era program of immigration relief for people who came to America at a young age: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. He charged Congress to replace it by this coming spring, and he gave DACA recipients, whose protections were soon expiring, an Oct. 5 deadline to reapply.

The compassionate program was available only to young people who were in school, had graduated from high school or received a GED, or were honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces or Coast Guard. Anyone with a serious criminal history was barred. Thousands of recipients scrambled to reapply and secure their insecure spots in the country they call home.

Many DACA enrollees worked with lawyers and sent their applications long before the deadline. But for some applicants in NYC, Long Island and Westchester, the mail didn’t get to the appropriate U.S. Customs and Immigration Services office in time.

Lawyers affiliated with the Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative say certified mail tracking records show that some applications sat in a U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Chicago for up to 20 days. The group began sounding the alarm last week after receiving rejections. They now know of more than 30 mail delivery delays.

Due to a bureaucratic postal error, the applicants’ immigration statuses are in jeopardy. Coldly, immigration services has said too late, too bad. This is wrong. Reconsider.

The mail mix-up shows just how precarious life is for these immigrants. Despite callously throwing the DACA program into a tailspin, Trump still professes to have some concern for its recipients. But he has kicked the issue to Congress, where it’s now a bargaining chip in a host of other legislation.

These students, veterans and civilians were promised protection here and they are now seeing that promise broken. Congress must quickly find a compromise to replace DACA — a way to begin to fix our broken immigration system.