Richmond holds DACA renewal clinics ahead of national deadline

Photo by Erin Edgerton

Following the Trump Administration’s announcement to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society at VCU (PLUMAS) teamed up with other Richmond organizations to hold DACA renewal clinics.

The Legal Aid Justice Center and the Richmond Immigrant Legal Resource Coalition helped PLUMAS at VCU organize three clinics throughout the month of September — the most recent held at the University of Richmond on Sept. 30.

The clinic offered free DACA renewal applications to any recipient whose status expires before March 5, 2018. DACA holders are able to apply for renewal until Oct. 5.

Legal Aid Justice Center Attorney Phil Storey was a lead organizer for the clinic.

“We’ve been involved since the beginning in supporting DACA recipients,” Storey said. “When the announcement came out we got involved with our northern Virginia office and this group came up with this clinic model so that we could offer as many of these clinics throughout the state as possible.”

DACA is an immigration policy that grants the children of undocumented immigrants two-year stays with an option of renewal. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 790,000 individuals were impacted by the program since its inception in 2012 under the Obama Administration.

The program allows young undocumented immigrants to apply for college, driver’s licenses and work permits without the fear of deportation.

President Donald Trump announced the termination of DACA on Sept. 5, which gave DACA recipients, also known as “DREAMers,” exactly one month to renew their status unless Congress passes legislation to protect the recipients.

According to the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, 1,326 students under DACA are currently enrolled in universities in Virginia, with 58 students at VCU. In total, about 200 people in the Richmond area are eligible for renewal.

“(The termination of DACA) is really sad and unfortunate and I don’t think it’s legally necessary,” Storey said.  “The argument from the Attorney General (Jeff Sessions) was that this was unconstitutional in the first place. I disagree. I think it was unnecessary to terminate it.”

One DACA recipient who attended the renewal clinic and asked to remain anonymous for safety concerns said their status is set to expire March 9, missing the timeline for renewal by four days, which they said, “leaves them undocumented.”

The government has not released any information hinting towards mass deportations. President Trump encouraged Congress to develop legislation in the next six months to help protect the DREAMers.

According to Sessions, if no legislation is passed by the March 5 deadline then DACA recipients will be seen as undocumented immigrants and will face the risk of deportation.

Emma Gauthier

Contributing Writer 

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