LA County leads the nation in DACA enrollees

In May 2019, Diana Crofts-Pelayo, assistant deputy director for California Complete Count – Census 2020, addressed civic leaders and media at a briefing for Census 2020 at the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency. The 2020 Census, which officially begins in April, will be the first online census and comes with lots of help for those who don’t have internet access.

Census 2020:  DACA Beneficiaries could stay in the US indefinitely

What is DACA?  DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is an immigration option for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16.

Legal experts urge DACA permit holders to renew now. LA County leads

While hundreds of thousands of immigrants with DACA permits await the Supreme Court ruling (a decision on DACA is expected by June 2020), immigrant advocates argue that the vast majority of them have sufficient legal rights to remain in this country for several years and maybe, indefinitely.

At a December 11, 2019, press briefing organized by Los Angeles County and Ethnic Media Services, legal experts urged immigrants protected by DACA or who once had it, but did not renew, to get immediate advice from the county’s Office of Immigrant Affairs or with any local organization regarding their legal rights, apply for possible financial aid and process to extend their status.

Los Angeles County is ground zero for DACA renewal with more than 82,000 immigrants with DACA status, more than any other county in the nation. LA County leads

“It is very important that immigrants with DACA renew the program as soon as possible,” said Judith Vásquez, representative of L.A. county supervisor Hilda L. Solís.”We know that the federal government has announced its intention to raise the cost of the DACA fee from $495 to $765 and it is best that they renew now before that happens.” LA County leads

Immigration legal experts added that in the event that the Supreme Court ruling ends the program, the beneficiaries may still be able to stay in this country for several years, through new permits obtained before their DACA authorization. There is also legal recourse by fighting each case individually in court.

“We know that 95 percent of immigrants with DACA do not have a pending deportation order,” said Daniel Sharp, director of legal services at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). “That means that if the Supreme Court allows the government to continue with the elimination of DACA, the vast majority of the beneficiaries are not in imminent danger of being expelled from the country.”

Sharp explained and urged DACA holders: “You have to wait for the best and prepare for the worst.”

The attorney was referring to the fact that some DACA holders had previous orders of deportation after being placed into removal proceedings before the benefit existed. When they were approved for DACA, they were momentarily protected from being removed per that order. But U. S. immigration authorities have the power to act immediately on an outstanding order of deportation, without more hearings or due process. LA County leads

But those who were never in removal have a fighting chance in the courts that are already seriously backlogged with pending cases, making their deportation a long-term prospect.

“DACA holders have the right to fight deportation and with the number of cases in immigration courts in Los Angeles, three years is the minimum that would take,” Sharp said.

Thomas A. Sáenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund), said that despite media projections about a possible negative outcome for DACA in the Supreme Court, “there is no way to anticipate the result, moreover, it is irresponsible to do so. ”LA County leads

MALDEF is representing 22 DACA holders from Texas in defense of the program, against a lawsuit by Texas and six other states that sought to dismantle the program. The civil rights organization felt the Trump Administration, a defendant in that lawsuit, would not adequately represent the interests of DACA holders and asked the court to interview, which was allowed.  That lawsuit is pending, and its resolution would depend on the Supreme Court decision on the overall issue.

Support for DACA immigrants

The bearers of DACA have the support of the community and of various organizations and institutions in Los Angeles.

Rigo Reyes, executive director of the Los Angeles County Office of Immigrant Affairs, outlined a variety of services for DACA holders and their families. “The county has taken concrete steps to protect and support immigrants,” Reyes said.

Along with legal help, financial assistance is also available to assist those who cannot pay the immigration fees. And the county is also responsible for compliance with minimum wage laws. DACA holders have work permits and are entitled to the same working rights as other workers.

More information can be obtained by calling the Los Angeles County Immigrant Affairs Office toll free at 1-800-593-8222.

Tiffany Panlilio, DACA legal advisor for Asian American Advancing Justice (AAAJ), said that DACA holders “are scared and often have to choose between paying rent and renewing the benefit,” but that there is support for them to do it.

“We want to ensure that DACA is still standing and that in my organization we have legal support in various languages: Chinese, Thai, Tagalog and Korean,” she added, noting that one in five DACA is Asian. She invited the community to go to a trusted organization to obtain free legal advice. “It is better to know than not to know,” she said.

Francisco Rodríguez, chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District, reminded the community that there are “Dream Centers” in each of the nine colleges in the system, which has more than 230,000 students. There, young immigrants can receive legal assistance and mental health “in an environment free of hate and hostility”, he added.

“I am an immigrant and I have benefited greatly from public education,” Rodriguez said. “I invite undocumented students to enroll in our schools. I assure you that all your information is confidential, and we have taken steps to protect it.”

This 3RNews dispatch was excerpted from an article written by Pilar Marrero made available by Ethnic Media Services (EMS). It is intended to help and inform the thousands of DACA beneficiaries living in Tulare County to be counted in the 2020 Census.

For more on the efforts to count California: https://census.ca.gov/complete-count/

 

 

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