Among mixed signals from Washington, D.C. over whether or not an agreement to preserve the protections of young immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) should be struck, anxiety is increasing on college campuses, according to the Memphis Daily News. Harvard University has a 24-hour emergency hotline for DACA students. Chicago’s University of Illinois put out tips on what to do if federal agents show up on campus. Universities across California are offering free advice to students fearing deportation. Almost 60 college and university presidents sent letters to legislators urging to make DACA permanent.
What is DACA?
In 2012, then-president Barack Obama created DACA through an executive order. The program allows hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the country. Those who can apply and qualify for DACA must not have serious criminal histories, must have arrived in the U.S. before 2007, and must have been under the age of 16 at the time of arrival. It is estimated that 350,000 of the nation’s almost 800,000 DACA recipients are students, most at colleges or universities according to a survey conducted by the Center for American Progress. DACA protected these immigrants from deportation and allowed them to work legally in the country under two-year permits.
Recently, top congressional Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi reported they had reached a deal with President Donald Trump to save the law. The next day, Trump said the deal was close but had not been finalized.
This was just the latest in confusing messages coming from the White House. Under the current administration, those already enrolled in DACA are covered until the expiration of their two-year permits. Should their permits expire before March 5, 2018, enrollees can renew for an additional two years but must do so by October 5, 2017. Unfortunately, the program is not accepting new applications. The renewal fee is $495.00. Universities across the nation are advising students to adhere to the deadline and are raising money to help pay for the fees. Many students under DACA cannot pay for school if they are unable to work. Many of those enrolled in DACA were brought to the United States as young children, not of their own volition, and have not been to their home country in decades.
Days after the Trump administration announced the phasing out of DACA, state attorney generals brought lawsuits claiming state universities cannot provide in-state tuition rates for DACA recipients because they do not have legal immigration status. Many schools are vowing to fight back.
If you or someone you know is concerned about the status of DACA, or has any other immigration issue, contact a knowledgeable immigration attorney today. You do not have to live in fear. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights under the law and fight for you to stay in this country.