Yesterday’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program over the next six months disrupted the lives of nearly 800,000 young people and their families across the country.
DACA has provided temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to qualifying immigrants since the program began in 2012. Those who qualify came here with their families as children and have since assimilated into our communities, growing up to contribute as hard-working neighbors.
For most of these young people, the United States is the only home they have ever known. They are citizens in every sense except by the letter of the law.
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is disappointed to learn this news because we know first-hand the value these “dreamers” bring to our community and our local economy as we work with the immigrant community to uphold human rights, ensure fairness and protect people from exploitation.
Since 2012, we have helped 155 people in our community apply and qualify for this status, which enables them to pursue their dreams like any other American by allowing them to attend college and to seek employment without the threat of deportation.
DACA recipients enrich our community and are an essential part of the local economy as business owners, employees and consumers, who pay taxes into a system of benefits from which they will never be entitled to receive as non-citizens.
They support their families, which include parents, siblings and their own children, most of whom are U.S. citizens.
Stripping the ability to work and pursue an education from DACA recipients and threatening deportation after they willingly divulged personal identifying information to the government shows no regard to the families at the heart of this issue. More broadly, doing so establishes a terrible precedent of exclusion that undermines our country’s values of justice and fairness.
The fates of these young people and their families should not be used as a political bargaining chip between the Trump administration and Congress, especially when family safety, security and stability is on the line.
There is a better approach.
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy urges Congress to pass the bipartisan DREAM Act introduced in the U.S. Senate this past July. This legislation would offer these dreamers the opportunity to become citizens in the country they call home. The bill also offers solutions and protections for undocumented young people who do not qualify for DACA, but also arrived in the U.S. as children. You can do the same by contacting members of your Congressional delegation.
In the meantime, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy stands with dreamers, their families and the broader immigrant community, advocating on their behalf for a fair and sensible immigration system that promotes family unity and provides opportunities for immigrants to pursue a path to citizenship.
What is DACA
(Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)?
- DACA is a temporary status that offers protection from deportation and eligibility for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors to attend college or to apply for a work permit.
- It is a two-year program that requires regular renewal with the U.S. government.
- To qualify, applicants must meet the following criteria:
– Under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012;
– Arrived in the U.S. before turning 16;
– Lived continuously in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 until the present;
– Physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of
– Came to the U.S. without documents before June 15, 2012, or lawful status
expired as of June 15, 2012;
– Currently studying at or graduated from high school, earned a certificate of
completion of high school or GED, or have been honorably discharged from the
military (technical and trade school completion also qualifies); and
– Must NOT have convictions of a felony, certain significant misdemeanors
(including a single DUI), or three or more misdemeanors of any kind.
- The Process
– Applicants must consult a qualified attorney before submitting any application to immigration authorities. Families often must be able to afford an immigration attorney to even apply. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and other legal service organizations help people who could qualify, but can’t afford to pay an attorney.
– Applicants must collect documents that prove one’s identity, birth, country of origin, presence in the U.S. as of June 15, 2012, continuous residence in the U.S., and a clean criminal record among other supporting documents to meet DACA criteria.- Applicants must complete applications in a process that requires filling out several forms.- Applicants must submit applications with supporting documents, photos and payment of a $495.00 application fee.- Applicants must undergo a background check and get fingerprinted.- Applicants must wait to receive a final decision in six to eight months.
What you can do to help:
- Attend upcoming events on immigration and other policies that affect our clients and community
– Monday, Sept. 18, 6:30 p.m. St. John’s Baptist Church,
Hear immigration attorney Maureen Abell talk about the impact the DACA rescission and other changes to immigration policy has had on Charlotte over the last year.
- Encourage friends and family members to make their voices heard in the deliberation process. Now is the time to speak up and advocate on behalf of yourself, your neighbors and your community.
- Sign Up for Action Alerts and follow us on social media to stay informed.
- Make an investment in your community and support our work by donating to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. You can direct your gift to the DACA Support Fund which directly covers costs to applicants renewing their protected status. Your gift to this effort will also be MATCHED up to $25,000 by a generous donor in our community.