A U.S. district judge ruled on Dec. 4 that President Donald Trump's administration must begin accepting new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The ruling’s impact can already be felt locally.
Lucy Richardson is the Hispanic Outreach of Goodhue County executive director. She told the Republican Eagle on Thursday, “I'm already working in collaboration with the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. And there are a couple of families that have already reached out to us because they do have children ... that could definitely qualify and apply.”
Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA in 2017.
The same day a memorandum was sent out by Elaine Duke — then acting secretary of Homeland Security — that said in part, “this memorandum rescinds the June 15, 2012 memorandum entitled ‘Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children,’ which established the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”). For the reasons and in the manner outlined below, Department of Homeland Security personnel shall take all appropriate actions to execute a wind-down of the program, consistent with the parameters established in this memorandum.”
In July of this year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could not end DACA, which protected participants — known as “Dreamers” — but new applicants were not accepted at that time.
According to Richardson the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota is currently taking names and placing people on waiting lists to apply for DACA.
To qualify for DACA there are a variety of requirements that a person must meet, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
The applicant was under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012
Came to the U.S. before reaching their 16th birthday
Had continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
Was physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012
Had no lawful status as of June 15, 2012
“Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.”
Has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or more than two misdemeanors
DACA applicants are also required to present a variety of documentation to prove that they meet the above requirements.
Applications come with a fee. Currently, the DACA filing fee is $495.
Richardson emphasized that it can be hard for many families to pay the filing fee during the pandemic. She told the Republican Eagle that she worked with one local family with students who are applying for DACA. Earlier this year the family contracted COVID-19, the mother lost her job and the father was not paid.
Expenses can be even higher for families if they hire an attorney to help with the filing process. According to Richardson, it’s not uncommon for a private attorney to charge up to $1,000 for the work done on the DACA application. Many nonprofits, like Hispanic Outreach, are working to help offset the cost of application fees.
For more information about Hispanic Outreach, visit: hispanicoutreach.org.