VIDEO: During Senate Hearing, Rosen Sounds Alarm on DACA Renewal Application Wait Times

View Video of Senator Rosen’s Questioning HERE

WASHINGTON, DC – During an oversight hearing of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) raised concerns over the significant application delays impacting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. These delays, which average more than five months, threaten Dreamers’ ability to work and provide for their families. In her questioning, Senator Rosen asked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his commitment to reducing wait times. Earlier this month, after Senator Rosen joined an effort urging the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to protect DACA recipients and process renewal applications in a timely manner, USCIS agreed to increase the automatic extension period for permits.

Senator Rosen has repeatedly called for a legislative fix to protect DACA recipients and provide them a pathway to citizenship. At the end of the 117th Congress, Senator Rosen gave a floor speech urging her Senate colleagues to take immediate, standalone action to permanently protect Dreamers while simultaneously continuing to work to pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship. And after a Rosen-backed push last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security extended Temporary Protected Status designation for El Salvador and Honduras. 

Below is an excerpt of the exchange: 

ROSEN: Nevada is home to thousands of DACA recipients – Dreamers who know no other home than the U.S. and they’re contributing to our community every single day. But, due to significant delays in processing times, their applications to renew their work permits, well they’re just taking longer than usual – putting at risk their ability to work [and] provide for their families. I recently joined several of my colleagues in successfully urging USCIS to increase the automatic extension period for work permits from 180 days to 540 days. This month, I also joined several colleagues in calling on USCIS to provide greater certainty to DACA recipients by reducing these renewal processing times, well, just in the first place. The USCIS median processing times doubled from 2022 to 2023, with many DACA applicants waiting over five months for their application to be processed.

So, can you talk to us about what are the biggest factors contributing to the delayed processing? And can you commit to working with me to reduce the times and let us know what resources you need? We can provide them. 

MAYORKAS: Senator, you certainly have my commitment to working with you on reducing the backlogs, the waiting times. We are addressing the regulatory need to extend the renewal period for work authorization. Very importantly, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has promulgated a final fee rule that will put the agency back on firm financial footing. It has not received a fee adjustment for, I believe more than seven years, even though there’s a statutory requirement that a fee rule be considered every two years. And, so I expect the financial condition of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to improve for us to be able to hire the people that we can, and address the backlogs that have indeed been growing. Despite those backlogs, I must say that USCIS, as it is known by its acronym, has done extraordinary work over and above its normal mission requirements – whether it’s uniting for Ukraine or Operation Allies Welcome, it’s a remarkable workforce characteristic of all the men and women in the Department of Homeland Security.