Va. ‘Dreamers’ sue to reapply to stay in US

WASHINGTON — Two Northern Virginia residents are suing the federal government, alleging their due process rights were violated when the rules regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, were abruptly changed in September.

Nurimaro Park, 26, and Jonathan Alvarenga Recinos, 19, are represented by the Legal Aid Justice Center in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Alexandria.

Attorney Simon Sandoval Moshenberg says that under DACA, recipients could renew their two-year permits before and after they expired. The ability to file after expiration has been something so-called “Dreamers” depend on, says Moshenberg, because the renewal application costs $495.

In Park’s case, the Fairfax County resident says he was taking advantage of that one-year renewal grace period when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Sept. 5 that the DACA program would end in six months. Anyone with a permit expiring before March 5 were given a chance to renew, but for those who had let their status lapse, renewal was not an option.

Park came to the U.S. from Korea with his parents when he was nine years old. As a student who excelled at math and science, he says he dreamed of going to college. “There was a single goal, right? To get to U.Va.,” the University of Virginia, he said.

There was one hitch; his parents never got legal status — and Park didn’t learn that he was in the country illegally until he was in high school. “During senior year, everything kind of fell apart,” he said.

DACA allowed Park to stay in the country legally, helping to support his parents. He and Recinos are hoping that the lawsuit will help the estimated 50,000 other DACA recipients affected by the change in application rules.

Sandoval Moshenberg says the lawsuit alleges that DACA recipients such as Park and Recinos were denied their due process rights. “The basis of due process is advance notice — a reasonable amount of advance notice” of changes to law, he said. “If they just had advance notice that for example, they only had one more month to renew, they could have done it. They would have done it.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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