‘A lot of questions’: SouthCoast groups hurry to help with DACA renewals

‘A lot of questions’: SouthCoast groups hurry to help with DACA renewals

NEW BEDFORD — The Immigrants’ Assistance Center is set to host a DACA information and renewal session and two other community organizations are also available for renewal assistance.

“We’re trying to get as many applications through as possible,” said Helena DaSilva Hughes, executive director of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center. While the center has been doing renewals, holding the session on a Saturday will give those who work or go to school during the week an opportunity to get assistance in renewing their applications.

The center’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal information session and renewal clinic is Sept. 23 at its office at 58 Crapo St. from 9 a.m. to noon. Applicants must bring a copy of their Employment Authorization Card (EAC), copy of their original DACA application, certified docket sheets, money order or check for $495 made payable to the Department of Homeland Security (for renewal fee) and two passport-style photos.

According to its website, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will adjudicate renewal requests received by Oct. 5 from current DACA recipients whose benefits expire between Sept. 5 and March 5, 2018.

This article (by Aimee Chiavaroli) first appeared in SouthCoast Today on Sep 14, 2017 – HERE

“There’s been a lot of questions,” DaSilva Hughes said, about what is going to happen next for DACA recipients. The biggest concern for DACA students continues to be what immigration might do with the information about them and undocumented family members which is released when the application is filed. She said “their concerns are legitimate” but also said, immigration already has their information from when they initially applied.

Some people are considering getting married as an alternative, she said.

She said she’s gotten calls from people who want to register for DACA for the first time, but they are no longer able to do so after President Donald Trump’s recent move to rescind the program protecting thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

“We have some students that are very angry and some students that are very sad,” she said.

DaSilva Hughes said there have been demonstrations and marches about DACA and she doesn’t advise against it, but “they need to be very careful they do it in a peaceful way.”

If DACA recipients get arrested, it will show up on their record and prevent them from becoming a legal resident, she added.

Despite the current state of affairs, DaSilva Hughes has a glimmer of hope. “I really believe that there will be an immigration reform under President Trump,” she said, because immigration has been in the forefront.

That said, she said Trump “says one thing and then the next day he changes it,” so it’s hard to build trust. Unless something is signed into law, she won’t get her hopes up, she said.

“The whole immigration system is broken, and it needs to be fixed,” she added.

The Community Economic Development Center and Catholic Social Services are also assisting with renewals.

Timothy Paicopolos, staff attorney with Catholic Social Services of Fall River said “we will do the renewal for them at no cost,” beyond the $495 renewal fee, but those who qualify could receive financial assistance with that.

He advised people in the area to call the main line at the Fall River office (508-674-4681) and ask for him directly, noting the line is open Monday through Thursday.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation out there,” Paicopolos said. The expiration of work authorization cards depends on the date that’s written on them, he noted, correcting misinformation he’s heard.

“The focus now is just to get people in and do direct representation,” he said. “There’s a lot of nuances that we want to make sure don’t get looked over.”

Corinn Williams, executive director of the CEDC said the office has been doing renewals on a case by case basis. People can call 508-979-4684 for assistance.

“It’s an inordinate hardship on a lot of the DACA students,” she said about having to renew on a deadline.

In order to avoid getting misinformation, Williams advises checking in with an immigrant attorney or a community-based organization that works with immigrants.

This article (by Aimee Chiavaroli) first appeared in SouthCoast Today on Sep 14, 2017 – HERE

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