Lawsuit Prompts Emergency DACA Workshops

Aug 8, 2018

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is in legislative limbo. Seven states are suing the federal government in an effort to end the program.

A Texas district judge will hear this lawsuit Wednesday, August 8th.  The hearing, led by Judge Andrew S.  Hanen, could lead to DACA’s suspension.

Two emergency workshops took place this week in Aurora. Organizers are trying to get as many renewal applications filed before the hearing takes place.

“For right now, we’re positive that renewals are being accepted, and we’re optimistic that new applications are going to have to be accepted too,” said Immigration Lawyer Jeremy Lime.

Lime is affiliated with Dream Action NIU, a student led group based in DeKalb. Lime and core members of Dream Action said they worked with seven college-aged people to send in DACA renewal applications, which cost nearly $500. He said he’s waiving his processing fees to these cases.

“Because I can. Why not? When you see what this administration is doing to the people that are least able to accept these types of hardships, in my position there’s a very limited number of things that I can do to help  and this is one of them,” said Lime.

Lime has been working with Dream Action NIU for more than five years.  Laura Vivaldo Cholula, a core member at Dream Action, said she’d like to see more groups working with DACA recipients.

 “I think this workshop is important because there’s a lot of resources that are concentrated in the Chicagoland area but not a lot for people who live out here, in the western counties,” she said.

Cholula said her group has been fundraising for filing fees and notifying students of recent legislation. “It’s a very day to day thing, you just have to kind of just tackle this one day, and see what comes tomorrow. We’ll do right now what we can, which is send renewals,” said Cholula.

A short drive across the river is Family Focus Aurora, a social service center. The center also held a workshop Monday.  Anallely Guerrero, DACA specialist at Family Focus,  says the mood at the clinic was “a little bit of everything.”

“Some of them have a very somber face, a couple of them come in with their parents,” she said. “And their parents are a little frustrated with the whole situation that -- once again -- DACA is in limbo and again we don’t really know what’s going to happen.

Guerrero said three people ran the workshop. She said they had ten appointments and additional walk-ins. She said people felt anxious.

“I wish we had done them sooner, not a couple days before the hearing of the case just to ensure that they actually were received in time, and avoid any possibility of them being rejected,” said Guerrero.

Cholula also said she was disappointed that these workshops weren’t planned earlier. Cholula said they started their workshop because they weren’t seeing anyone else doing it in the same way.

She said the group’s main focus is student stability, which has been stressed recently:
“Especially right now because it’s August, and we start school in the fall, some of us are struggling to pay text books, struggling to finish paying off our tuition and to add this on, it just causes a lot of mental anguish, lot of anxiety and I definitely don’t think that Trump is thinking about that or even our allies or citizens around us are thinking about how debilitating it is.

As school begins, Cholula said the group hopes NIU increases their on-campus resources for students affected by immigration policy. Lime also said immigrant communities need more consistent support, not just when policy shifts because of big changes.

“When that happens, it’s not just, it might be a thirty second news story, but it -- People get really shaken in these communities that we serve,” said Lime.

Last week, a district judge ruled that the DACA program should be restored. This decision is unique because it allows for new applications. The federal government has until the end of August to appeal this ruling.