Student organizations discuss deferred action
The Graduate College of Social Work Hispanic Student Association, the Mexican American Studies Student Organization and the Youth Empowerment Alliance will host a clinic about applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Room 115 of Leroy & Lucille Melcher Hall.
According to immigrationequality.org, deferred action is “a discretionary grant of relief” for undocumented students allowed by the Department of Homeland Security. Eligible students are those who are less than 31 years old; came to the U.S. before the age of 16; have resided in the nation since June 2007; are in school or have a diploma or a GED; and have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three consecutive misdemeanors.
When approved, the DACA application allows a student to work, study and apply for a driver’s license for a renewable two-year period.
Members of HSA, MASSO and YEA have arranged for attorneys to come to the clinic to aid students and their parents in the DACA application process.
“For the people who will be attending our clinic, our ultimate goal for them is to get free, quality legal assistance and the empowerment that comes with filling out a DACA application, filing it and, hopefully, eventually getting them approved,” said MASSO Chairperson Karla Perez.
The clinic will provide two meals and engagement activities with hopes to encourage students to pursue higher education. HSA President Ana Rodriguez, another heavily involved volunteer for the DACA clinic, said she hopes the day will bring more than just a deferred action application for the students.
“In addition to helping students fill out their application and hopefully getting them on track to getting their work permit and driver’s license, I think the the other goal is definitely to connect them to resources and to connect them to the organizations and groups that are out there and want to get them engaged,” Rodriguez said.
The DACA clinic will begin engaging applicants by encouraging them to tell their stories.
“With their stories, that’s how we are really going to be able to change, maybe, the hearts and minds of those who are on the fence about immigration reform,” Perez said. “Everyone has a different story of why and how they came to this country, and those stories are really empowering … for others to hear, because you put a face to an issue.”
The aim is that the empowerment of undocumented students comes from communication. Other undocumented students can hear stories similar to theirs and, in addition to receiving deferred action, become a part of a networked community of deferred-action recipients.
“We really hope that the DACA clinic will show other students here on campus that there are groups here on campus who are there for them, can be able to provide resources for them — and support — and ways for them to get involved,” Perez said. “A lot of people who have come to our DACA clinics or events with us end up being volunteers for future, and they’ve been really able to help make a difference around the community.”