Chapel Hill entered into a performance agreement with El Centro Hispano to help pay for the DACA renewals in the town.
The Chapel Hill Town Council on Wednesday night authorized the town manager to enter into a performance agreement with El Centro Hispano to assist in the DACA renewal fees for Chapel Hill residents.
The town’s assistant director of the office for Housing and Community Sarah Viñas gave a presentation at the council meeting and said the agreement is in keeping with the council goal of making Chapel Hill a place for everyone.
“According to the Migration Policy institute, there are about 66,000 individuals who are eligible for DACA across the state of North Carolina,” Viñas said. “There’s an estimate of about 22,000 current beneficiaries of DACA across the state and 3,000 Orange County residents who are DACA eligible.”
According to Viñas, the agreement is for up to $5,000. DACA renewals cost $500 per person, which would allow the town to pay for 10 renewals.
Community Engagement and Advocacy Manager for El Centro Eliazar Posada said El Centro has helped over 40 children register for DACA and that while the need is there, there is fear among some DACA recipients about renewing. Posada said that fear is increasing after recent raids and arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
“We are seeing folks just trying to stay away from a lot of these benefits because you would have to update your address, you would have to update all of your information, and usually students don’t live alone, they live with their parents. And usually if the student has DACA, the parent usually does not have citizenship or residency,” Posada said.
“So, the question then becomes, ‘I’m putting my information out there; they know where I live, does that information later come back and hurt my parents or hurt the people in my community?’”
This week, three ICE raids in Orange County were confirmed by El Centro in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough.
Posada said El Centro does full screenings for individuals and families for any legal path options, not just DACA, which is part of the reason the organization hired an immigration lawyer to assist in screenings.
“We have addressed the needs of community members whenever they come in and say, ‘We don’t know why we have to do this, if this is important, what is going to be the risk were putting my family in?,’
“We take additional steps in these clinics and whenever folks come into the office to ensure that we are doing a full analysis of the situation rather than just pushing a renewal.”
In addition to the $5,000 that Chapel Hill has agreed to give El Centro toward DACA renewals, Carrboro will give $10,000 and Durham $5,000. Vinas said that the $5,000 total from Chapel Hill was identified from the Housing and Community budget. Officials said they would continue looking for additional resources if all of the $5,000 is used.