What Now for DREAMers?

The clock is ticking for the 120,000 DACA recipients in Texas

Protesters rallying against threats to DACA in July
Protesters rallying against threats to DACA in July (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Texas Targets DACA
Texas Targets DACA
Are Texas and Trump colluding to end DACA?

Mary Tuma, May 18, 2018

A Nightmare for DREAMers
A Nightmare for DREAMers
Ending DACA affects an estimated 124,000 Texans

Mary Tuma, Sept. 29, 2017

More by Mary Tuma
5th Circuit Strikes Down Texas Anti-Choice Law
5th Circuit Strikes Down Texas Anti-Choice Law
Judges say law would have forced women into "painful, invasive, and experimental" procedures

Oct. 23, 2020

It's Real and It's Spectacular: <i>Seinfeld</i> Stars To Raise Funds for Texas Dems
It's Real and It's Spectacular: Seinfeld Stars To Raise Funds for Texas Dems
Any-size donation gets you in the (virtual) door Friday

Oct. 21, 2020


DACA, Donald Trump, Caitlin Boehne, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle