What Now for DREAMers?
The clock is ticking for the 120,000 DACA recipients in Texas
In a move former President Barack Obama aptly deemed "cruel" and "self-defeating," last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on behalf of the Trump administration, called for a six-month wind-down of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, handing Congress the task of ironing out a possible legislative solution for the 800,000 recipients – undocumented immigrants brought to the country by their parents as children – by March 5. So what happens in the meantime for the more than 120,000 recipients in Texas?
While no new DACA applications will be accepted for the time being, current DACA and work permits remain valid until their expiration date. Two-year renewal applications for those that expire between now and March 5, 2018, must be received by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by Oct. 5. (Those cost $495, and both Jolt and American Gateways are currently fundraising to help DREAMers pay for them.) "The most urgent message for DACA recipients is to renew permits soon if eligible, otherwise the door is shut," relays Caitlin Boehne, an attorney with the Equal Justice Center. "Anyone who falls into that category should talk to a lawyer and get their application in ASAP."
And those currently benefiting from DACA will also no longer be able to travel abroad (a Department of Homeland Security permission known as "advance parole"). Pending applications for advance parole won't be processed, but DHS will refund fees. Anyone who's already been approved for travel will be honored, but there's no guarantee of re-entry into the U.S., Boehne cautions. She also warns to watch out for "notarios" – notary publics from Spanish-speaking countries who've been caught advertising themselves locally as licensed lawyers. "They do not have training to provide legal help and are known to engage in fraud," she says.
Boehne's group anticipates taking on a "massive" amount of DACA clients over the next three-and-a-half weeks – pro-bono for those at or below 200% of the federal poverty line. And it's a community effort: Other local organizations similarly extending low-cost or free services to eligible clients include American Gateways, Catholic Charities of Central Texas, RAICES, and Justice for Our Neighbors. Boehne suggests DREAMers get to one of the upcoming community forums (listed below) to learn more about DACA renewals and see if they qualify for any other protections.
Local DACA Events
DACA Informational Forum
Register for the DACA renewal clinic (below) here.
Thu., Sept. 14, 6-8pm
ACC Riverside, 1020 Grove, Bldg. G, Rm. 81.00
Free DACA Renewal Clinic
Attorneys available to help complete DACA renewal forms; child care provided.
Sun., Sept. 17, 9am-2pm
Mexican Consulate, 5202 E. Ben White
Texas Here to Stay Immigration Consultation Clinic/Know Your Rights Presentation
Sat., Sept. 30, 10am-2pm
KIPP Austin – South Campus, 5107 S. I-35
Visit www.weareheretostay.org for more info on DACA’s next steps.