DACA updates in the AB540/ Undocumented Students Workshop

Victoria Meza, Opinion Editor

The workshop about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) updates under the new Biden’s administration took place on Jan 27. It was introduced by the AB540/ Undocumented Students Program Manager Marcela Galino, and it was led by Claudia Lopez, who was representing the UFW Foundation.
Lopez started by clarifying that DACA is not the federal DREAM Act, but a “band-aid” that Obama did put over the whole reformation on the immigration topic. DACA, according to her, is a “lawful presence” but not a “lawful status”.
Lopez addressed the benefits that DACA could bring to its applicants, which include work authorization, a social security number that the applicants would keep even when they renew their DACA, a real ID’s driver license, and a full scope Medi-Cal (in California) if they meet the financial and age requirements.
She also explained that part of the benefits includes the possibility to get grants, preferential tuition fees, scholarships, or loans to help them to attend college if they qualify for them. She added that it is now possible for DACA applicants to buy a house.
Lopez said that, in case of travel, it was necessary to apply for the Travel Advance Parole. She explained that some things needed to be proved before DACA such as: if the applicant is traveling for humanitarian reasons, like sick relatives or funeral services, educational reasons that could include a study abroad through the campus, and for employment, in case they are asked to assist to a meeting, conference, or training.
According to Lopez, on Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump administration tried to end DACA. Applicants had only one month to renew. Several recipients challenged the termination in various courts. Lopez said that in 2018, different courts helped DACA holders to renew their DACA, and in June 2020, the Supreme Court issued a decision that preserved DACA although they did not address its legality.
Lopez explained that, in July 2020, the DHS Acting Sec. Wolf issued a memo indicating that USCIS would not comply with the June 2020 decision, for instance, USCIS rejected all initial DACA applications and the Advance Parole applications, and the renewal was shortened to a year.
However, on December 7, 200, USCIS published a notice saying that the government was accepting DACA. According to Lopez, this was because the Trump administration could not terminate DACA, and DACA ended up being reversed to its original capacity, so the DACA currently used is the one from 2012.
Lopez said that this is not over yet, since recently Texas has brought a case challenging DACA and its legality.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen, so please be on the lookout as well, anything coming out of Texas ’cause that case has still not ended,” said Lopez.
She added that on January 20, 2021, President Biden wrote a Memo to preserve and fortify DACA.
Lopez addressed the requirements to be eligible for DACA, which are to be born after June 15, 1981, to be currently at least 15 years old, to have entered the U.S.A before turning 16 and before June 15, 2007, and to be physically present in the U.S on June 15, 2012. Also, other requirements include being graduated from high school or have a GED, or being currently in school, and have lived in the U.S from June 17, 2007, to now.
Lopez explained that the only people that were not able to qualify for DACA were the people who committed a felony, was convicted of a “significant” misdemeanor, convicted of three or more misdemeanors, or who represent a danger to national security.
She encouraged them that if they committed a felony, it is better not to lie but to look for an attorney or a credited representative before applying.
She said that the filing fee would be $495.00. If the applicant is unable to pay the fee, then they must contact their UFW Foundation legal provider to get help with that fee, because they may be able to help.
She explained that advocacy organizations are fighting in DC right now to push the date of June 15, 2007, for people that came after that date.
She talked about the other workshops that are going to take place in the next few days, and she encouraged everyone to stay informed about the DACA updates, which are going to be also discussed in the next workshop on Feb. 4.