Government receives final renewal applications from DACA recipients

LANCASTER, Pa. - Potentially hundreds of undocumented immigrants who live in Lancaster County had to rush to renew their protection from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, ahead of a deadline Thursday.

When President Trump announced the end of DACA in September, it meant that anyone whose status expired on or before March 5 had until Thursday to renew with the government for an additional two years, filing an application with a $495 fee.

That includes Claudia Llewellyn, a Lancaster County resident who renewed her status before the deadline.

"I was rushed to renew my work permit," she  said. "The stress is no joke."

Llewellyn works as an advocate for children with behavioral issues, and says she has developed strong bonds with her clients.

"It's hard for those kids to open up to another person, and then when they finally do it, I don't know what I'm going to tell them," she said.

Beyond the March 5 date, the future is unknown. President Trump has called on Congress to act, but has also said he will revisit the issue on his own without any action from Capitol Hill.

That date has serious implications for one undocumented immigrant being helped by Church World Service, whose status expires right after it.

"I looked at her card and I realized it expired March 7th," said Carrie Carranza, a legal counselor for CWS. "She said, 'Well what does this mean, what happens after this expiration date?' and I had to look her in the eye and tell her that after that she's able to be deported."

Immigration attorneys and legal counselors across the country have been urging their clients whose status expires before March 5 to renew.

"The fear is they're going to get this knock on the door once the program is over, 'We know where you are, we know you're illegal, come with us, it's time to go,'" said Lancaster immigration attorney Troy Mattes. "That's the fear and that's the uncertainty and that's a real fear."

Immigration advocates say they are meeting with Rep. Lloyd Smucker Friday to try to convince him to push Congress for a permanent solution. Smucker said in a statement last month he agrees with the President "that there should be a legislative solution instead of a DHS directive that was never intended to be a permanent fix."