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Thousands of Dreamers Are Losing Their Work Permits

The federal government is struggling to renew work authorizations for thousands of undocumented immigrants temporarily protected from deportation by the Obama administration.

Thousands of undocumented immigrants who gained work permits as part of an Obama administration effort to shield young people from deportation are suddenly losing their ability to work legally as the federal government struggles to renew their authorizations on time.

Exactly 11,028 young immigrants have had their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and work permits expire in spite of having applied on time, according to numbers released for the first time to BuzzFeed News by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that handles the permits. The number of lapsed cases represents roughly 5% of the total number of DACA renewals that USCIS has approved so far.

Yael Pineda, a 19-year-old undocumented student at UCLA, owes her job to DACA, the Obama administration’s 2012 program that gave her a work permit and protected her from deportation because she had arrived in the United States as a child. When her DACA status started nearing the end of its two-year term, Pineda applied to renew well within the window of time recommended by USCIS, according to documents she shared with BuzzFeed News.

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