Free Legal Clinic For DACA Recipients Up For Renewal

Sep 27, 2017

President Trump announced earlier this month that he's rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but some recipients are still eligible for renewal. The program offers work visas to undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children. El Centro Hispano is partnering with the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro to hold a free legal clinic to assist with renewal applications this Saturday afternoon at the Carrboro Town Hall. 

Any DACA recipient whose work visa expires between September 5 and March 5 is invited to attend. Their regularly scheduled deadline for renewal is October 5.

Bridgette Richards, an immigration attorney at El Centro Hispano, says lawyers will be at the clinic to sit down with recipients' and check over their renewal applications. Richards says those who plan to come to the clinic should also attend an information session Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to prepare to bring all necessary documents to the clinic for review by immigration lawyers and law students.

"They'll go line by line through the application, because if there is something that would make you ineligible, it's important to know that so that you don't make an application where it won't be approved," Richards said.

The fee to reapply is $495. The town of Carrboro and individual sponsors are offering first-come first-serve scholarships to pay that fee.

"All we ask is that they are able to renew," said Eliazar Posada of El Centro Hispano.

Carrboro residents will be eligible for scholarships sponsored by the town of Carrboro. Some local sponsors are also offering to help pay fees for those who are not residents of Carrboro. National scholarships are available through LC4DACA.org.

Posada says even those who can apply for renewal to receive DACA benefits -- including a work permit and driver's license -- are wondering if this is a good time to send their updated information to a federal agency.

"That's a question that a lot of kids are dealing with nowadays," Posada says. "Not just simply, am I eligible to renew but should I renew? Is this worth it?"

The U.S. Citizen and Immigrations Services administers the program, and currently the department legally cannot share information on applications with immigration enforcement. However, that policy can change and Richards says it is currently under review by the Trump Administration.

Some immigrant advocates worry that if applicants' information is able to be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it could be used to target applicants or their family for deportation.

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