The Town of Carrboro, El Centro Hispano and community organizers joined to help DACA recipients through the renewal process this past month.
Through information sessions and clinics, DACA recipients were guided through the process and many received funding to sponsor the $495 process.
“Part of what we were trying to work on when the decision was made to end DACA was to find ways we can help these young people renew if they could, or just give any kind of support,” said Eliazar Posada, community engagement advocate for El Centro Hispano.
Posada says even if residents can not renew, organizers will screen residents for other possible immigration benefits.
The last day to submit forms for renewal was October 5, and Carrboro assisted fewer than 20 residents with their DACA renewal process.
El Centro Hispano immigration attorney Bridgette Richards says that turn out is a success.
Among the DACA recipients helped at the clinic was Wendy Martinez.
“I’m originally from Colombia. I’ve been living in the United States for about 16 years. I finished my high school, my university, everything here, and now I work for Lenovo,” Martinez said. “I was a little bit afraid. I didn’t know exactly if I would qualify to renew my process, but since I came here, they actually went through my paperwork; they did suggest a few more documents to support my process and by Saturday everything was checked in, everything was pretty much reviewed, and I had my package ready.
“I came to the first session on Thursday and that’s when they informed me about the scholarship. Immediately, right there I applied. On Friday, I got my approval in the morning, and the check, it arrived on Tuesday, pretty much two days after. The next day I sent my package. So that was a huge, huge help.”
Martinez was inspired to volunteer after receiving help with her DACA renewal process.
“I realized that we are not really alone, there’s a lot of people who really want to help us, support us, provide us information, tell us where to go and even help us pay for this process,” said Martinez.“The first day I actually told them, ‘Okay, what can I do to help you.’ The same way they helped me, so I think that getting involved is so important.”
While the due date for applications has passed, Posada says there are still ways that community members can get involved.
“We are working with advocacy platforms, and we are working with organizations to advocate for a more permanent solution, because we all know DACA was in many ways a band-aid,” said Posada. “Send us an email and say, ‘Hey, I want to participate in tutoring. I want to help with community outreaching.’ We have a huge number of programs that we’re always looking for volunteers for.”
For more information on getting involved, visit El Centro’s website.