About 154,000 people are eligible to renew. As of Thursday morning, many still had not applied — cost, the difficulty in getting legal help and fear of how the government will treat them are likely reasons.
by David Compa
Thursday is the deadline for more than 150,000 undocumented immigrants in the US enrolled in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, to renew their status before the program officially ends. DACA allows undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children temporary protection from deportation and access to work permits. Over the past four weeks, tens of thousands of DACA recipients have rushed to renew their status for two-year extensions before the Trump administration’s Oct. 5 deadline. In Chicago, a community organization in the Pilsen neighborhood called The Resurrection Project has submitted at least 20 DACA renewal applications weekly on behalf of its clients — up from just a handful in a typical week — plus up to 60 more at each of several walk-in legal clinics it has held at community centers, churches and schools. The mood is often sadness and disappointment, said Laura Mendoza, an immigrant organizer for the group who is a DACA beneficiary herself. “Today, we had a client who came in for a consultation and just started crying,” Mendoza said Wednesday afternoon. “She thought she didn’t qualify for renewal but she actually was a candidate. But with the stress, people just don’t have all the information they need.” The group was surprised that more DACA recipients did not come in for assistance. About 154,000 people nationwide were eligible for renewal during the one-month window, and legal-aid providers scrambled to supply free lawyers and fee assistance for the applicants. As of Thursday morning, US Citizenship and Immigration Services had received only 60,000 renewal requests, according to spokesperson Katie Tichacek. Another 58,000 people, including Mendoza, renewed before the Trump administration announced it would end the program. That means about 36,000 eligible DACA recipients were unable or chose not to apply for renewal. Mendoza said the tight deadline, lack of access to legal help and inability to pay the $495 renewal fee on short notice contributed to eligible DACA recipients not applying. “And people are afraid because they don’t trust the government anymore, so they didn’t want to give their information by renewing,” Mendoza