Here at Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN) we have been dedicated to assisting young immigrants in Silicon Valley apply for DACA since President Obama implemented it two years ago today on August 15, 2012. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is an initiative that grants temporary work authorization and relief from deportation to undocumented youth who have grown up in the United States. Of the 1.2 million undocumented immigrant youth eligible, nearly half have applied and been granted this status under DACA. Since 2012, an additional 160,000-180,000 young people reached the age requirement, 15 years old, to become eligible.
Since its implementation, we have received 705 inquires about DACA and assisted 346 community members with their applications. This year, we are working closely with Santa Clara County and partner organizations to expand our services and accommodate renewing DACA recipients as well as continue to serve first-time applicants.
Over the past two years, DACA has had resounding success, enabling hundreds of thousands of DREAMers to continue pursuing their educational and professional ambitions without the fear of deportation. In many states it has provided them with driver licenses and state IDs, as well as access to healthcare. For these hardworking young people who have grown up in the United States, attended school and work in this country, DACA has kept the promise of the American Dream alive and has allowed our nation to fully benefit from their many talents and contributions.
As we begin to see familiar faces return to our office to renew their DACA, they all have unique stories to share about what having DACA has meant for them. When they talk about receiving their notice in the mail and seeing their social security number for the first time, you can see that a weight has been lifted from their shoulders. They talk about their new financial independence through better job opportunities with higher salaries and benefits, and their ability to enter into certification programs that require a social security number – such as teaching and cosmetology. They express a sense of security and peace of mind because the fear of deportation or being cited without a driver license has been eliminated. For many, it is the first time they feel like they belong in the country they call home.
Despite the attempt of several House members to defund DACA and the overall failure of Congress to make immigration reform a reality this year, the program retains the support of the majority of Americans. As we prepare for the President to announce new executive orders on how to address the immigration crisis, we will continue to fight for our families by demanding for the expansion of DACA and pushing for a permanent fix to our broken system. Our community voice will continue to grow stronger and louder as we await the President’s announcement and Congress’ return from August Recess.
Is your DACA expiring soon? Receive free help with your renewal application on Saturday, August 16th at the San Jose Bascom Library.