What Does the Administration’s Decision to Rescind DACA Mean?

By Carlos A. Guevara, Senior Policy Advisor, UnidosUS

For the past five years, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a lawful and incredibly successful program, has transformed the lives of nearly 800,000 undocumented youth who came to the United States as young children. President Trump’s decision to end DACA means that hundreds of thousands of young people are now relying on Congress to come up with a bipartisan solution in order to ensure that they are not thrust back into the shadows.

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DREAM Act of 2017 Introduced in U.S. Senate

On July 20, 2017, Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act of 2017. This is the latest iteration of this important piece of legislation, which has historically enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress. UnidosUS is encouraged by this most recent effort to reach across the aisle and once again attempt a meaningful, bipartisan solution for the many DREAMers living in our communities and making significant contributions to our nation.

The news comes at an important time. Last week we wrote about renewed threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy following a meeting between the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the administration’s top immigration enforcer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. The meeting followed a letter sent by 10 attorneys general threatening to present a legal challenge to DACA unless the administration takes steps to unwind the policy on their own accord. The Trump administration has until September 5 to decide on how it will respond.

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NCLR President and CEO Responds to DHS Actions on DACA, DAPA


In response to a new memo released yesterday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the rescission of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía issued the following statement:

“While we applaud the administration’s apparent decision to keep DACA in place, today’s action is far from reassuring. The announcement that DACA would not be repealed was coupled with a decision to formally revoke DAPA, which would have given temporary protected status to an estimated five million parents of U.S. citizens. Further, the Trump administration took pains to note that they have not yet decided on DACA’s long-term future, as if the benefits to our economy, our society and the more than 750,000 young people beginning their adult lives in the only country they have ever known can be debated or denied. Claiming that DACA recipients are safe, while ending protections for parents and issuing executive orders to increase an already draconian enforcement policy does not actually ensure their safety or anyone else’s. This is why NCLR will continue to protect and defend the Latino and immigrant communities in the United States, and continue advocating for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform.”

DACA Requests Continue to Be Received and Processed, but Communities Should Be Cautious

On June 7, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—the federal agency in charge of processing all immigration-related services—released data on applications filed under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The data confirm that, in the first three months of the Trump administration, USCIS has continued to receive and process DACA requests at similar levels to those during the previous year.

Between January and March 2017, USCIS approved 107,524 DACA renewals and 17,275 new applications. The numbers are comparable to the previous three-month period (October to December 2016).

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NCLR Joins Civil Rights Groups in Demanding White House Preserve DACA Program

Photo: Office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

On January 18, in anticipation of expected executive orders on immigration from the Trump administration, NCLR signed onto a letter from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights urging the new president to keep the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program for immigrant youth intact.

The DACA program was established in 2012 under former President Obama to grant temporary deportation relief to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before their sixteenth birthday. More than 750,000 individuals—known as “DREAMers”—have enjoyed the benefits of the DACA program. For many DREAMers who have grown up in the United States, this has been the only country that they have ever known.

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Granting Extended Status to DACA Recipients is the Right Step Forward

We applaud the bipartisan bill legislation Senator Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced late last week that would provide provisional protected status for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients.

The 2012 program allows unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children—also known as “DREAMers”—who have completed or are enrolled in high school, and who have not committed serious offenses, to obtain temporary protection from deportation, as well as a work permit, renewable every two years. Since DACA’s implementation, almost 740,000 DREAMers have received temporary deportation relief.

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A Ruling to Decide the Fates of Many

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR
(Originally posted 11/20/2015 on
The Hill’s Congress Blog.)

DACA_sign

It is hard to describe the joy millions of American families experienced a year ago today when President Obama announced two programs that would provide relief from deportation for many immigrants in our country who are rooted in community and family. It was visceral, the kind of joy that grips your soul until tears well up. It is not often a public policy pronouncement has that kind of immediate, deeply emotional effect. But that is what the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program did.

After a decade of ad nauseam debate on immigration in which the latest chapter was House leadership’s aggressive refusal to vote on Senate bipartisan legislation, communities were in desperate need of relief. While some politicians talk about immigrants as if they are separate from the rest of America, the reality is that they are our coworkers, our friends, and our families. That day, millions of U.S.-citizen children, of spouses, family, and friends alike, felt that the constant anxiety of having a loved one forever plucked from their lives without notice might finally go away.

One has to imagine the depth of that relief to begin to understand the equally visceral reaction to seeing it blocked. Instead of a year in which millions of undocumented immigrants could have done what our country wants—come forward, pay a fee, get vetted, work legally—we remain mired in a fight in which opposing the president takes precedence over economic, political, and moral benefits.

(Read the entire post at The Hill)

A Helpful Guide for DACA Renewal

More than 600,000 people have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and had their lives positively impacted by the temporary status and work permit. DACA recipients need to remember to apply for DACA renewal before their work permit expires. It’s always best to begin the renewal process early. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently shared the following information to ensure that the DACA renewal application process goes smoothly for everyone.

Follow these steps to properly fill out your DACA renewal:

  • File on time. Submit your renewal request between 150 days and 120 days before the expiration date listed on your current Form I-797 DACA approval notice and Employment Authorization Document.
  • Correctly submit all required forms and fees. USCIS will reject your renewal request unless you properly submit all of the following:
  • Avoid processing delays. Be sure to submit:
    • Any new documents and information related to removal proceedings or criminal history that you have not already submitted to USCIS in a previously approved DACA request
    • Proof of advance parole if you have traveled outside the United States since you filed your last DACA request that was approved
    • Proof of any legal name change
  • Respond to Requests for Evidence. USCIS may deny your renewal request if you do not respond to a Request for Evidence in a timely manner.

USCIS is mailing renewal reminder notices to DACA recipients 180 days before the expiration date of their current period of deferred action to ensure sufficient time to prepare renewal requests. For further instructions, go to the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals page.

You may submit an inquiry about the status of your renewal request after it has been pending for more than 105 days. To submit an inquiry online, please visit egov.uscis.gov/e-request or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD for the hearing impaired: 1-800-767-1833).

Use these helpful steps and reminders to ensure that your DACA renewal process goes smoothly, you avoid delays, and you receive your work permit on time.

Convening Our Talents! The Third Annual CASA Youth Summit

By Feliza I. Ortiz-Licon, Ed.D., Senior Director, Education, NCLR

CASA_blogpic1The academic year for 2014-15 is coming to a close but the learning and activities continue for students in the Cultura, Aprendizaje, Servicio, Acción (CASA) service-learning project. On May 27-28, nearly 60 CASA coordinators and students from five NCLR Affiliate sites gathered in Los Angeles for the Annual CASA Youth Summit. The goal of the Summit was to provide students with a youth-centered program that invited networking, the exchange of ideas and a space to reflect on their signature service-learning projects.

A chief goal o f the CASA project is to expose middle school students to new experiences-socially, culturally and academically. To do that this year, the Youth Summit kicked-off activities at the historical Chavez Ravine-home of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Our staff worked with the Dodgers’ Community Relations team to personalize the students’ visit to the ballpark with customized admission tickets and a running a score board message that read, “Welcome NCLR CASA Students.” The Dodgers ultimately lost their baseball game, but it didn’t damper student spirits as they reported having a “good time” at the game and enjoying the overall experience.

Summit attendees at Dodger Stadium

Summit attendees at Dodger Stadium

CASA_blogpic3On day two, students focused on the core of the Youth Summit, the CASA project expo. All school year, students focused on a genuine need in their community. To help identify that need, teachers guided students through the service-learning cycle and implemented the revised CASA curriculum to ground the service-learning projects in academic learning and cultural relevance to the Latino community. Students presented their projects that covered an array of topics including: agents of change, healthy living, poverty & homelessness, Latino voting patterns, and the meaning of an educated democracy. The projects were simply impressive. The topics addressed by these middle school students are dense and layered with complexities. Still, they were able to synthesize the information gathered, identify the need in their community, and implement service projects to address the need.

CASA_blogpic4In one case, students forged partnerships with organizations to build an urban garden and produce organic produce. They taught the community about healthy food options to help with the prevailing health issues in the Latino community like diabetes and cholesterol. Another CASA site conducted an analysis of the gap between eligible Latino voters and those who actually voted during the last presidential election. This information was used to develop a brochure that informs community members about the importance of voting and encourages youth to register to vote. Still, another site identified immigration as a pressing issue in their community and invited an immigration attorney to speak to parents and community members about Executive Orders like Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

It is comforting to know that our Latino youth are thinking critically about issues that impact their respective community and taking steps to address these issues through advocacy and action. We can all play a role, big or small, in this effort through mentorship, partnership, sponsorship or volunteering in a service action. So ask yourself, what can I do to uplift the Latino community through service-learning?

Living the American Dream: Hareth Andrade

Living the Dream-01 (2)Hareth Andrade planned to go to college ever since she was a little girl. She just never imagined the challenges that she would face in getting there. Hareth arrived in the United States without her parents at an early age, and it was years before she would see them again. They stayed behind in Bolivia, hoping that their daughter would have better opportunities in the United States.

With time, Hareth adapted to her new reality and excelled in school. She attended Washington High School in Arlington, Virginia, where she took Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes.

Hareth, with Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, at a celebration recognizing DREAMers of Virginia’s efforts in pushing for access to in-state tuition

Hareth, with Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, at a celebration recognizing DREAMers of Virginia’s efforts in pushing for access to in-state tuition

Hareth worked hard and her future looked bright. But one day, while visiting a University of Virginia camp for high school students interested in science, she learned that she would face challenges in pursuing her dreams because she was undocumented. Like many DREAMers, even though she worked hard and felt as American as her peers, she didn’t have the paperwork to prove it.

Hareth explained, “I had heard about Social Security numbers, but I didn’t know what that was. We didn’t talk about it at home. One of the panelists was talking about financial aid and Social Security numbers. I was puzzled, so I asked, ‘What if someone doesn’t have a Social Security number?’ The response was something I did not expect. It felt like a slap in the face.”

Given her accomplishments in school and her talents, Hareth’s opportunities seemed endless. However, after discovering the barriers to higher education that her undocumented status posed, she felt uncertain about her future. Thanks to the inspiration from her guidance counselor, Hareth realized that she could use her talents to push for policy change, so she started advocating for Congress to allow students like her, who had grown up in the U.S., to continue their education and pursue their dreams in the country they call home.

After graduating from high school, Hareth, along with other students, founded DREAMers of Virginia, an organization that has led efforts to provide access to in-state tuition for people who came to the United States as children and graduated from high school in Virginia.

She remembers when President Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Hareth applied in the summer of 2012 and shortly after received her documents, including her work permit, in the mail. “The day I got the card, I called my mom crying, and I told her, ‘Mom, it’s happening! I am going to do all these things I want to do.’”

Now Hareth’s life has changed in ways large and small. “Before it was so limiting,” she said. “One time I could not get into the movie theater to watch the newest Harry Potter movie. I had to show ID to prove I was 18 years old, but since the movie theater staff didn’t take my student ID and I had no state-issued ID, I was not let in. When I held DACA in my hands, it meant so much to me.”

Since receiving DACA, Hareth transferred from community college to Trinity Washington University, where she is pursuing a degree in international affairs. She expects to graduate next year and obtain a job in that field.

Thanks to DACA, there is a clear path for young people like Hareth to enter the workforce. “Applying for jobs has felt like an accomplishment. Writing my Social Security number on a piece of paper felt like an accomplishment. My entire life has been based on this number.”

Hareth has continued to advocate for opportunities for her peers. In 2014, DREAMers of Virginia was instrumental in securing access to in-state tuition in Virginia. Today DACA recipients are eligible to pay in-state tuition at some of Virginia’s colleges and universities, keeping higher education within reach.

When asked what she would like to see next, Hareth said, “I would like to see my parents included in DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents]. These programs shape lives. Our society can’t exclude the people who help the most. Otherwise we are not helping our country move forward.”