After a federal injunction that blocks the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) last September, the Department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is taking renewals again.
In response, Jewish Family Service (JFS), a local nonprofit that specializes in immigration services, will offer two DACA update community presentations to help DACA recipients understand if they are eligible to renew and get free eligibility screenings.
“It’s basically an update about what’s going on just because so many of the updates are coming out fast and they’re confusing,” JFS Litigation Coordinator Vanessa Dojaquez-Torres, J.D. told NBC 7. “They involve a lot of court processes that people generally don’t fully understand. So we’re there just to kind of let the public know this is what’s happening with DACA right now, this is what could change, this is what you should be doing to plan for your own family.”
The information sessions will take place on Tuesday, January 23 and Wednesday, January 31. There was a previous one last Thursday.
Renewal workshops will also be held on Jan. 20 and 29.
Dojaquez-Torres said there is some urgency because the administration is appealing the decision.
“Honestly, at any time there could be another injunction by a circuit court or by the Supreme Court, and so we want to help people renew while they can as quickly as they can,” she explained.
DACA, which was created by an Obama executive order in 2013, allowed undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. as children, to study, work and live in the United States without fear of deportation. President Trump rescinded DACA through an executive order at the beginning of September, putting the futures of 800,000 Dreamers in jeopardy.
The government shut down on Friday largely because Congress and the president were unable to agree on a spending bill that did not include provisions for Dreamers.
“For all those Dreamers out there,” Joe Kennedy III, a Democratic representative from Massachusetts, said before the shutdown, “our message for each and every one of you: there are those in our government that see you, that hear you, that believe and know that this country belongs to you.”
One of the reasons for the court injunction, Dojaquez-Torres said, is that Trump’s rescinding of DACA would do irreparable harm to Dreamers. “Basically the court was saying ‘no, we’re going to keep everything how it was with DACA still in place until we can make a decision on the merits of the case,” she said.
Dojaquez-Torres said that one-quarter of Dreamers live in California.
“I have family members who are DACA recipients,” she told NBC 7. “I’ve worked with people who are DACA recipients … Seeing what happens to these kids – if they get picked up - it affects every part of life actually.”
She said her personal connection to the issue motivates her to work even harder.
“You can’t get bogged down by the system, she said. “You kind of have to let it motivate you to work harder to serve people well, to advocate for changes in the law. We have a huge surge in attorneys wanting to volunteer and college kids coming, volunteering, people that are retired that are like ‘I just want to roll up my sleeves and do something, what can I do?’ In a way, it has brought together a lot of people that weren’t as active as they were before, so there’s good and bad.”