The deadline for DACA recipients to renew their status is this Thursday and in Austin there are local efforts to help recipients get their paperwork done in time.
The Trump administration announced a month ago it would repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which gives work permits and temporary legal status to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Those eligible for renewal of DACA have until tomorrow to pay the $495 application and turn it in.
When Pedro Villalobos, an Austin-based attorney, heard the federal government was giving DACA recipients only 30 days to renew their status, he thought two things: One, it’s not a lot of time to fill out all of the paperwork. Two, it’s not cheap.
“I knew that was going to be a high amount for people to gather in less than 30 days,” Villalobos said.
Villalobos wanted to help DACA recipients, or Dreamers, so he and other Austin attorneys raised more than $50,000. This paid the $495 fee for more than 100 DACA recipients.
The local teacher’s union, Education Austin helped, too. Vice President Montserrat Garibay helped promote renewal clinics which offered information on the renewal process, and in some cases, free legal help.
Garibay says that after working with Dreamers over the last few weeks, she noticed a fear and anxiety.
“One of the things that caught me off guard, was that some students stopped applying for their renewal [of their DACA status] because they were so worried when President Trump started,” Garibay said.
Both Garibay and Villalobos say now that the deadline to renew DACA is here, they can shift their focus to Congress. President Trump has said he wants to pass legislation to give Dreamers a more permanent status.