Rhode Island Just Took A Huge Step To Help Dreamers With Their DACA Renewals

By Andrea González-Ramírez

As part of President Trump’s plan to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Dreamers whose permits are set to expire by March 2018 have only until early October to submit the documents for their permits’ renewal. But the $465 application fee can be cost-prohibitive for many DACA recipients, who only had one month between Trump’s announcement and the October 5 deadline to scrape together the money.

Taking this into account, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and a coalition of advocates announced Monday that they had secured about $170,000 to pay the application fee of RI Dreamers whose status is set to expire in the next six months.

“A couple of weeks ago, when the Trump administration announced its plan to end the DACA program, we gathered in Central Falls and pledged to do everything in our power to stand up for Rhode Island’s Dreamers,” Raimondo said in a statement provided to Refinery29. “We’re not going to allow [$465] to stand in the way of our neighbors’ dreams. Now is the time to fight for our values and take action against hatred and bigotry.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Raimondo told Refinery29 that there are about 1,200 Dreamers in the state, and the governor’s office estimates that between 250 and 300 DACA recipients will have their status expire on or before the March 5 deadline. The Rhode Island Foundation and United Way are partnering with Gov. Raimondo on this initiative.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo.Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images.

The funding can go a long way to support Dreamers who don’t have the financial resources to pay for their permits’ renewal. On average, undocumented families earn about $30,100 per year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. That’s almost half of the income of the average median household in the U.S., which was $59,039 in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Besides using these donations to help Dreamers pay for the fee, several groups are offering pro-bono legal representation and assistance to help DACA recipients fill out their applications. Some of them include the Rhode Island Center for Justice, the Immigration Clinic at the Roger Williams University School of Law, the Pro Bono Collaborative at the Roger Williams University School of Law, Progreso Latino, the Dorcas International Institute, and the Coalition of Advocates for Student Opportunities (CASO).

“It is critically important to get the word out to Rhode Island Dreamers and other immigrants that help is available,” CASO chairwoman Marta V. Martínez said in a statement provided to Refinery29. “We want immigrants to know they are not alone.”

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