By Bill Parry
Four different community-based organizations in Queens will partner with the city in a new program that will provide classes to assist immigrants meet educational requirements needed for DACA eligibility, a federal program that offers temporary protection from deportation as well as access to work authorization. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals increases opportunities for social and economic mobility for immigrants across the city.
“New York City is home to nearly half a million undocumented immigrants,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “They are our neighbors, colleagues, friends and family. We launched a major effort to help these New Yorkers come out of the shadows with ActionNYC, and now we’re going a step further. Our new education initiative will provide immigrants with an invaluable opportunity to obtain the sense of security needed to transform their lives.”
Grants will be provided to Queens Library, the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, Make the Road New York and LaGuardia Community College to provide educational services such as English literacy and high school equivalency classes. Once enrolled in classes, participants will have the opportunity to work with a case manager who will conduct a needs assessment and set goals with each participant.
“This grant will enable us to expand our educational pathways for youth who qualify for deferred action and want to make better lives for themselves in the U.S., and we’re delighted to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs on this important program,” LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow said.
Despite the success of DACA, thousands of potentially eligible New Yorkers have not applied because they do not yet meet the education requirements for the program. To meet that requirement, immigrants must demonstrate graduation from high school, or current enrollment in a qualifying educational program, like those supported by the DACA Education Initiative. Those who were honorably discharged from the U.S. military may also be eligible.
“Today the de Blasio administration is taking an important step to help immigrants enroll in high-quality, community-based education classes that will help them qualify for the life-changing benefits of DACA,” Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal said. “We look forward to connecting New Yorkers to the literacy, vocational and educational classes they need to establish their eligibility for DACA.”
Immigrant New Yorkers who think they might be eligible for the ActionNYC DACA Education Initiative and would like to enroll can call 311 and say “ActionNYC.” For further information on DACA, immigrant New Yorkers should call 311 and say “DACA.”
“As a city that values the contributions of its immigrant communities, the ActionNYC DACA Education Initiative goes further to support individuals who are potentially eligible for DACA so they may remain here with their families,” City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) said. “Working with community-based organizations that well know the communities they serve is a keen approach to reaching individuals who are missing out on the opportunity to remain here with protected status.”
Although the implementation of President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration has been halted by litigation, immigrants can continue to apply for the original DACA program, which celebrated its fourth anniversary Aug. 15.
“DACA assistance is one of the most common issues my office faces from new immigrants,” City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said. “While there is never a simple solution to the many pitfalls plaguing our country’s immigration process, the DACA Education Initiative will greatly help to provide applicants with essential tools to navigate the system.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr