DACA recipients brace to receive another hit after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed increasing the fee for DACA renewals. After the comment period was reopened on January 24, comments to the proposed fee increases closed in early February.
The strong increase is a blow that many organizations that advocate for immigrants already saw coming. The cost of the DACA renewal, which takes place every other year, is $495, and USCIS is proposing to increase it 55%, to $765. The announcement also included an increase for the naturalization process fee which would swell 83%, from $640 to $1,170.
According to the Center for American Progress report, DACA recipients’ contributions to the economy are sizable. DACA households pay $5.7 billion in federal taxes, $3.1 billion in state and local taxes. They also pay approximately $613.8 million in mortgage payments and $2.3 billion in annual rental payments.
A group of Senators, led by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), sent a letter to USCIS official Samantha Deshommes expressing their strong opposition to the rule. The Senators wrote that the USCIS’s efforts “are a clear and concerted effort to harm low-income individuals, vulnerable populations, and communities of color.” The Senators continued, “Immigration is essential to American society and the American economy. The proposed changes are contrary to what we stand for as a nation.”
For their part, the USCIS argued that the increases were necessary to fund the functioning of their department, because the “current fees do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services.”
DACA recipients are already facing an uphill battle with the Supreme Court, who is on the verge of deciding the fate of the program under the Trump administration, who wants to terminate it.
“The first time I held a DACA card in my hands was the first time I felt free,” Gabriela Andrade told Revolution English last year. “Now, 7 years later, my fate is in limbo once again, resting in the hands of 9 judges who have no idea what it’s like to have your existence criminalized by your own government. Their decision could strip me of everything—my job, my home, my family—but my dignity and humanity, those will remain intact.”