With help from immigration attorneys, Jewish Family Service of San Diego hosted a free workshop Wednesday for recipients of the now-rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The workshop began at 11 a.m. at the Jewish Family Service’s Joan & Irwin Jacobs Campus on Balboa Avenue in Kearny Mesa. Attorneys planned to be there through 7 p.m. helping DACA recipients.
The event comes as an Oct. 5 renewal deadline looms for DACA recipients whose status expires between now and March 5, 2018. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), renewal requests for beneficiaries of the program must be filed by next Thursday.
The filing fee, which includes employment authorization and biometric services, costs $495, per USCIS.
At the workshop, attorneys and immigration experts helped so-called "Dreamers" with eligibility screenings and in renewing their applications so they could be submitted in time.
Linda Feldman, an immigration specialist, said she and others were there to provide support as DACA recipients navigate the multi-step renewal process and help flag any issues that could prevent their application renewal from going through.
"Many DACA recipients are nervous about the fact that DACA was revoked and many are confused because when it was revoked, several dates were given and not much explanation was given to the DACA recipients," Feldman explained.
Through funding from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Jewish Family Services said it would be covering the hefty USCIS fee for some eligible, low-income DACA renewal applicants.
Since the DACA program began in 2012, Jewish Family Services said it has helped with more than 250 DACA applications and renewals, including 23 applications currently pending.
The DACA program protects young immigrants from deportation who were brought to the United States illegally as children. For qualifying recipients, DACA grants a two-year reprieve from deportation and gives them the documents needed to work legally, including a work permit and Social Security number. Those permits must be renewed every two years.
To qualify for the program, recipients must have no criminal record. They must also have been 30 or younger when the program launched in 2012 and brought to the U.S. before they were 16 years old.
"In my mind, these people [DACA recipients] are the same as me," said Feldman. "They are people who have lived in the U.S. most, if not all, of their lives. They are people who just want to work, who want to provide for their families, who want to go to school. They’re hard-working individuals who go out and find good jobs, and pay taxes and actually pump up our economy and make the U.S. a higher educated and harder working society."
Early this month, President Donald Trump decided his administration would end the President Barack Obama-era program that has shielded nearly 800,000 young people from deportation. The administration said it would rescind DACA with a six-month delay to give Congress time to decide if it wants to address the status of the law.