‘There is a time crunch’: DACA renewal workshops are being held this week at the Iowa City Public Library

DACA renewal workshops

Iowa City Public Library Meeting Room A — Thursday, Sept. 21 from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 23 from 1:30 p;m. to 5:30 p.m.

Hundreds gather at the old capitol building to support DACA. Thursday, September 7, 2017. — photo by Zak Neumann

There’s been a lot of confusion over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since Sept. 5, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the program, but two workshops this week at the Iowa City Public Library will help DACA recipients cut through the confusion.

“The only things that are certain at the moment are that no new [DACA] applications are being processed, and the only renewals are for people whose status is going to expire before March 5 of next year,” David Gonzales told Little Village. “There is a time crunch. Anybody who can renew their status by March of next year has to do so by Oct. 5.”

Gonzales is a student at the University of Iowa School of Law working with the UI School of Law Clinical Programs, one of the groups sponsoring the DACA renewal workshops. “We at the clinic have created a DACA team,” Gonzales said.

Along with the other sponsors — the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project, Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, Iowa City Immigration Advocates and Johnson County Community ID — the DACA team will be providing assistance to anyone with immigration questions at the workshops on Thursday and Saturday.

“There will be volunteer immigration attorneys in attendance, who can answer questions [for people with immigration statuses other than DACA] as well. In some cases, a different type of status is more secure than DACA, because DACA is only going to last two years,” Gonzales explained.

President Obama issued an executive order creating DACA in June 2012. Under DACA, the Department of Homeland Security ceased initiating deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before turning 16, have lived in the country for five or more years and are in school, have graduated from high school or are military veterans of good standing. No one convicted of a crime is eligible for DACA.

People eligible to renew their DACA status need to bring copies of the paperwork associated with their previous DACA and employment authorization applications, as well as their current employment authorization form. They will also need a check or money order made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

It costs $495 to process a renewal of DACA status. A fund has been set up to help people afford the fee. UI students can contact the university’s Center for Diversity and Enrichment for potential help with the fee, and the Mexican Consulate in Chicago has announced a fund to help Mexican nationals renew their status.

“It’s a lengthy process,” Gonzales said, of applying for DACA status renewal. “If people can get to workshops, that’s great. But even if they can only stop by for five minutes, we’ll be able to give them a list of local resources they can use.”

“That’s really what we’re trying to accomplish with these two workshops,” he added. “Getting the word out to as many people as possible that there is help available.”

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