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DACA recipients nervous as key deadline passes

Dreamers face a key deadline in filing renewals for participation in the DACA program as a new poll shows most Americans want them to stay in the country.
Courtesy of David Altschuler
By Bill Parry

Thursday was a very significant date on the calendar for thousands of Dreamers in Queens. It was the deadline for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients to renew their status as the Trump administration dismantles the DACA program, which provides protections for 800,000 young adults who were brought to the United States as young children.

The administration said that everyone eligible needed to renew their application by Oct. 5 if they wanted to keep their work permits for an extra two years. If Congress does not pass its own version of DACA by March 5, the program will die, putting its recipients in danger of deportation to countries many have no memory of.

“President Trump’s administration created a crisis for Dreamers and their families with its decision to end the DACA program,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Height) said.

Nonprofits and advocacy groups such as the New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road New York and Queens Community House have rushed to offer free legal advice, help filling out applications and in some cases covering the $495 renewal fee.

Carmen Gutierrez, coordinator of Immigration Services at Queens Community House, has seen a steep increase in the number of calls since the Trump administration announced the end of the DACA program.

“We received so many calls in one week, we had to get a new phone,” Gutierrez said. The young people who call are nervous and don’t always have the correct information. We offer free legal advice and can walk each participant through the process. We are also able to provide the fee if a family can’t afford the application.”

Queens Community House has offered DACA support since the program’s inception in 2012. Its Immigration Services program provides assistance and legal services for immigrants, including citizenship applications and other residency needs. Contact cgutierrez@qchnyc.org for more information.

A Quinnipiac Poll released Sept. 28 showed that by a margin of 5-to-1 American voters believe Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the United States. The poll found 82 percent of American voters, including 69 percent of Republicans, think undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,412 voters nationwide.

“Trump’s decision to terminate DACA wasn’t just bad policy, it was cruel, spiteful, and overwhelmingly unpopular within even the Republican establishment,” state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) said. “Few public policy items have as much overwhelming support across party lines as the federal Dream Act and DACA. Even typical immigration hardliners understand that we’re talking about kids who came here through no fault of their own, whose lives would be upended when forced out of the country they’ve always called home. Congress has been talking about passing sensible immigration reform for decades, and what is more sensible than letting kids stay in the communities they grew up in? To my friends in Washington: the clock is running out.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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