At Opportunity Fund we are not experts on immigration policy or constitutional law. We do know our clients—hardworking strivers who use our loans, financial education, and savings incentives to build better futures for themselves and their families. We know they get up early every day, fire up the propane tanks on the food truck or grab a heavy backpack full of schoolbooks, and go about the business of contributing to our community and our economy. Most of our clients are immigrants, and they are every bit as American as anyone who was born here. Many of them were brought here as children, sometimes without proper documentation; often, they didn’t even find out they were “undocumented” until the first time they tried to get a job or apply for student financial aid. Whatever your feelings about undocumented immigration, surely this group - people who were brought here as children - are a sympathetic group.
In 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was enacted to help people who grew up in America as undocumented immigrants gain permits to work and study here legally. The program made this bargain with these youth, known as “Dreamers”: You come forward out of the shadows, reveal all of your personal identity information to the Federal Government (and pay $465—a not insignificant sum for our clients) and the government will give you a permit to work and/or study in the U.S. It was an incredibly risky and costly thing for an undocumented immigrant to do, but over 800,000 Dreamers did—200,000 of them in California. They became the first in their families to go to college. They got living wage jobs and began earning more than their parents. They brought their family businesses out of the underground economy, got business licenses, and began paying taxes. They began to see their dreams of prosperity come true.
On September 5th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded DACA, with no assurances that Congress would act to renew or reform it within the 6 month wind-down period. Our clients are back in limbo, after accepting the risky bargain that was offered to them in good faith.
We simply cannot let this stand. I urge everyone reading this to contact your elected representatives and urge them to pass immigration reform that enables Dreamers to continue to study, work and contribute our our communities. In addition to the moral issue, there is also a strong economic argument for preserving DACA, and you may want to read up on it. But that is not the argument I’m making. This is a moral issue, and the Administration is wrong to take this action.
UPDATE - Here are ways you can support Dreamers with DACA renewal + resources for Dreamers for DACA renewal
1.) Contribute to the Santa Clara County DACA Emergency Fund
The County of Santa Clara has allocated $200,000 to establish an emergency DACA Fund to help recipients pay the $495 renewal fee by the October 5, 2017 deadline. Go to https://www.siliconvalleycf.org/sccdacafund to make a contribution to this fund.
2.) Resources for Dreamers
- DACA renewal scholarship
• Mission Asset Fund (MAF) will provide $1,000,000 in scholarships to 2,000+ Dreamers to pay for DACA renewals. To apply for the scholarship, visit http://www.lc4daca.org/. Deadline to apply is Friday, September 29
- Loan for DACA renewal
• Self-Help Federal Credit Union offers loans with 0.0% interest rate and no application fee to help cover the cost of the renewal application. For more details, visit https://www.self-helpfcu.org/personal/loans/immigration-loans
• Catholic Charities’ Immigration Legal Services in San Jose and Gilroy are holding walk-in consultation meetings for DACA renewal and comprehensive legal screening for other immigration benefits. To learn more, go to http://catholiccharitiesscc.org/daca-renewal
• DACA Clinics – Nonprofit legal service provider organizations are hosting DACA Clinics and individual appointments to support renewal applications in California. For locations and more information, visit https://ready-california.org/events-calendar/#1
• Immigrant Legal Resource Center – The ILRC has made several resources available, including a community advisory on DACA, which lays out what DACA recipients need to know about the end of DACA for work permits, driver’s license, social security numbers, and other information. Visit https://www.ilrc.org/advisory-daca
For students attending a UC or CSU educational institution, there are a variety of resources and supports available, including legal services and DACA Renewal application assistance.
• CSU Students: https://www2.calstate.edu/attend/student-services/resources-for-undocumented-students/Pages/default.aspx
• UC Students: http://inclusion.uci.edu/2017/09/12/napolitano-uc-chancellors-daca/