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Efforts underway in NYC to bring more 'dreamers' to DACA program

Since its introduction, the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program has proven to be a remarkable success. Indeed, by the end of 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved the petitions of 521,815 applicants, 26,682 of whom live right here in New York.

For those unfamiliar with DACA, it was unveiled by the Obama Administration back in 2012 as a means of helping young people -- often referred to as dreamers -- who came to the United States as children secure a sort of temporary status that not only protects them from deportation, but also grants them invaluable documents like a work permit and Social Security card.

In order to qualify for DACA, which grants the temporary status on a renewable two-year basis, a dreamer must have been here in the U.S. prior to the age of 16, been born on or after June 16, 1981, and have lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007. They must also have graduated, earned a GED or currently be in school.

While it may seem hard to believe, the time for the two-year DACA renewal is rapidly approaching for tens of thousands of people, many of whom live right here in New York City.

As such, many immigrant advocacy groups are currently hard at work providing applicants with the necessary information about the renewal process.

"Our goal is to ensure that as few people fall out of status as possible," said the director of one NYC-based organization dedicated to helping dreamers.

Interestingly enough, immigrant advocacy groups are also hard at work trying to get young dreamers in New York City to sign up for DACA for the first time. These groups have indicated that many young undocumented immigrants have been hesitant to take advantage of the program out of everything from fear of the federal government to misinformation concerning its eligibility requirements.

In recognition of this problem, the Department of Youth and Community Development and the New York Immigration Coalition are now using a grant from the City Council to help organize a special program designed to increase DACA enrollment. Here the funds are being devoted to everything from the funding of adult education programs to the running of community outreach programs.

It should be very interesting to see if these efforts prove successful, such that we not only see large numbers of DACA renewals but also first-time enrollments in the program …

Source: The New York Daily News, "Two years after Obama program launched, NYC advocates 'reach deeper' for young immigrants who qualify for social security cards, work permits," Erica Pearson, March 26, 2014

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