Undocumented youth in US urged to renew DACA

Posted at 06/18/14 12:34 PM

LOS ANGELES - It's been two years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was introduced by President Barack Obama.

For DACA recipient Anthony Ng, who came to the US as a youth and whose papers eventually expired, the Executive Order has given him a new hope.

"It's improved my life in so many ways. I'm able to get a job and to have safety from deportation and it really allowed me to be more active in advocacy for immigration reform and immigrant rights," said Ng.

Ng was among the early recipients of DACA when the program became available in August of 2012. The order allowed certain undocumented immigration relief, work permits, and drivers' licenses for two year periods. The clock is now ticking for the first batch of renewals.

Non-profit immigrant rights legal aid group Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) is urging those like Ng to begin the renewal process.

"We really encourage applicants to apply no later than 4 months before their expiration date to allow for ample time to process. In case their expiration date does come around and they applied in a timely fashion, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has said that they will provide interim work authorization cards," said AAAJ legal advocate, Michelle Saucedo.

The renewal will cost $465 the same as first-time applicants and the process is similar.

"The renewal process is a lot more streamlined since they actually do not have to submit any other evidence unless they have had any troubles with law enforcement. Quite a simple process," she said.

AAAJ added that even though DACA is an executive order and President Obama will leave office after 2016, the future of the program is uncertain. But it is advised to apply while it's ongoing.

They still believe it has potential staying power.

"Many executive orders stand beyond a particular president. There have been Republicans who renewed Democratic executive orders and vice versa," said Karin Wang, AAAJ Vice President of Programs & Communications.

Since 2012, out of 642,000 applications, 96 percent of the youth were approved.

The Philippines remain in the top 10 of the county of origin. AAAJ said that the USCIS will not refer the names of denied renewals to deportation proceedings unless criminal cases are involved.

While the early batches of DACA youth must undergo the renewal process, advocates say it's still not too late for first-time applicants to submit their initial paperwork for one of the more certain immigration reliefs readily available.