On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. Currently, the program is set to begin phasing out on March 5, 2018. This program, instituted by the Obama administration, allowed individuals who entered the country illegally as minors to receive a renewable two-year deferment on deportation and to be eligible for a work permit.
Nearly 800,000 individuals, often referred to as Dreamers after the Dream Act bill, have taken advantage of this program to remain in the U.S. These Dreamers now face the possibility of being deported from what, in many cases, is the only home they have ever known and sent to a foreign country where they may know no one and may not even speak the language.
Many are desperately wondering where they can turn for help. Fortunately, as Mr. Rogers once said, there are “helpers” everywhere in a time of crisis. Here are just a few examples of how people are reaching out to help Dreamers during this difficult time.
People Who Care for Dreams
Individuals like Manny Villareal are offering their time to the cause. Villareal came to the United States on a travel visa when he was only four years old. To him, Kansas is home. A senior electrical engineering major at Wichita State University, Villareal actively mentors and advocates for other DACA recipient. As a DACA recipient himself, Villareal’s mission is to help as many people as possible achieve the dream he has.
Community Free Clinics Give Dreamers a Boost
Fortunately, a number of organizations are offering free clinics to help Dreamers navigate tricky legal territory. One law firm hosted a free clinic on September 26 to help Dreamers identify and prepare documents that would allow them to remain in the United States legally. This clinic was part of the National Immigrant Justice Center’s program bringing lawyers together with clients who need help.
Dreamers residing in New Mexico have a number of places to turn for help. The Santa Fe Dreamer’s Project is hosting weekly DACA clinics to help Dreamers prepare their renewal applications. The clinic meets each Friday. In addition, Listo Nuevo Mexico hosted a 12-hour “DACA-thon” to help with renewals. It also offered 150 scholarships to help Dreamers pay the renewal fee. The event took place Oct. 1.
For Mississippi residents, the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance has offered to pay the $495 renewal fee for DACA recipients who had to renew before the Oct. 5 deadline. Current DACA recipients face deportation if they cannot afford to pay the renewal fee by this date. Those in need of assistance with the renewal fee can visit the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance’s Facebook page for the renewal form and to see if they qualify for assistance with the fee.
A Renewal Fund to Assist DACA Recipients
The Mission Asset Fund established a DACA renewal fund to help pay the renewal fees of Dreamers needing to renew their permits prior to the Oct. 5 deadline. To date, they have gathered over $3 million to help Dreamers, the largest fund of its kind in the nation.
The fund is open to Dreamers nationwide. The Mission Asset Fund has already awarded 4,000 Dreamers scholarships to renew their permits. 2,000 permits remain available. Dreamers can apply for a scholarship by going to the website Mission Asset Fund established for this purpose.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel for Dreamers
Nobody would argue that now is not a dark time for Dreamers given the Trump administration’s recent decision to repeal DACA. However, there is still hope. While it remains uncertain if Congress will be able to pass much-needed protections for Dreamers, there are people who care and who can assist Dreamers in renewing their permits.
Thanks to individuals and organizations such as those listed above, thousands of Dreamers will be legally allowed to remain in their homes, their jobs, their schools and their communities.