NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Thursday repeatedly pressed the Trump administration to extend an October deadline for some immigrants to reapply for a program that shielded from deportation children brought to the United States illegally by their parents.
President Donald Trump recently decided to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March 2018. However, immigrants known as Dreamers whose work permits expire before then can apply to renew them for another two years, though they must do so before Oct. 5.
At a hearing in a Brooklyn, New York federal court on Thursday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis said extending the deadline would give time for Congress to enact a legislative solution without impacting people in the program.
“No one will be harmed by extending this deadline,” Garaufis said, “especially the 800,000 people who are sweating about whether someone is going to come knocking on their door and send them back to a country that they don’t even know and where they don’t speak the language.”
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett Shumate said the Department of Homeland Security was already considering an extension due to recent hurricanes, but no decisions had been made.
“We will definitely take your concerns back to our clients,” Shumate said.
Trump said on Thursday he was close to a deal with Democratic congressional leaders on protections for Dreamers, astounding fellow Republicans while alarming conservative supporters.
The judge’s comments came as he was deciding whether immigration advocacy groups would be allowed to file new legal claims challenging Trump’s decision to end DACA.
Martín Batalla Vidal, a 26-year-old DACA recipient whose status expires in February 2019, gave a press conference outside the courthouse after the hearing.
“I was glad that the judge saw the economic side of this for Dreamers nationwide,” said Batalla Vidal. “He knows that if we lose DACA and we lose our jobs, that will cause a lot of harm to our families.”
Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York, writing by Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Cynthia Osterman