Dreamers rush to renew DACA protection before Trump repeal takes effect – Indianapolis Star
Rachel Van Tyle, immigrant justice program staff attorney at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, discusses the top three misconceptions about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
Juan Mendoza hopes for two more years.
He wants two years of certainty. Two years when he won’t have to worry about being deported to a country he’s never known. Two years to work and save and provide for his family.
“A little more time,” said the 27-year-old Indianapolis resident.
The future is up in the air for Mendoza and other recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects from deportation people who were brought to the U.S. as children without authorization.
President Donald Trump announced two weeks ago that he was eliminating the Obama-era program, delaying the full repeal for six months to give Congress time to work out a solution.Â
But there is still a small window for many of the young undocumented immigrants once known as Dreamers.
While the federal government will grant no new DACA approvals, current DACA recipients will retain their status and work authorization permits until they expire, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
And some, such as Mendoza, are rushing for one more two-year DACA renewal while they can.
Those whose DACA status expires between Sept. 5 and March 5 can apply for renewal, as long as their requests are in before Oct. 5, USCIS said.
Locally, theÂ Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic is offering three free clinics to help people apply for renewal. Or, for those who don’t qualify, the clinic is seeking other pathways to immigration relief.
San Francisco-based nonprofit Mission Asset Fund has pledged scholarships nationwide to pay for every DACA renewal before Oct. 5, the clinic said. The application for renewal comes with a $495 fee.
“It gives everyone a chance to come up with a backup plan,” said Rachel Van Tyle, the clinic’s immigration justice program staff attorney.
Still, the big unknown looms over how Congress may address this immigration issueÂ â and whether lawmakers will succeed at all in passing any legislation on it.
Riling Republicans, reports say Trump is willing to work with Democrats to strike a deal, offering protections to DACA recipients in exchange for border protections. Some conservative Republicans say they would prefer a more dramatic overhaul of the immigration system.
About 800,000 people have been given protections under DACA.
For Mendoza, DACA has allowed him to continue living the only life he’s known. He’s rising on the management track at the restaurant where he works, recently promoted to assistant general manager.
“We’re doing what we can to get our lives together,” he said.Â “There’s nothing wrong that we’re doing. We’re helping the country economically.”
His younger brothers are citizens because they were born in the U.S., he said, and his parents hold Green Cards. They are living in the U.S. legally, he said, and he’s looking into whether he has a pathway to citizenship.
The uncertainty of the future of DACA leaves Mendoza nervous, often worrying about how his wife would cope without him if he is deported. He would be sent to Mexico, a country he hasn’t seen since he was 11 months old and where he knows no family.
But even as Mendoza considers the U.S. to be home, he notices people often stare at him. They call him names. At the restaurant, even though he’s a manager, he said some people don’t trust him with their credit cards, asking instead for someone else to run the bill.
He tries to ignore it.Â “Just don’t let them see it hurts,” Mendoza said, but tears ran down his face during the IndyStar interview.
And as he was getting passport photos Friday for his application for a DACA renewal scholarship, a man called him a racial slur.
It was one more reminder for Mendoza that some people will always consider him an outsider.
USA TODAY contributed to this story.
Call IndyStar reporter Stephanie Wang at (317) 444-6184. Follow her on Twitter: @stephaniewang.
If you go
The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic is holding two more free DACA Clinic Days. The clinic, sponsored by Ice Miller,Â will help people renew their DACA status or explore eligibility for other immigration relief options from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 23, at the Avondale Meadows YMCA, 3908 Meadows Drive.Â More information can be found at universe.com/DACA-9-23-17. Another event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 25, atÂ St. Monica Catholic Church, 6131 N. Michigan Road. More information can be found atÂ universe.com/DACA-9-25-17.