Professional and citizen activists have helped raise money and provide resources for DACA renewals in the Summit County area since 2017. They recently submitted another 80 renewal applications for local youth.
The Obama Administration created the DACA program in 2012 to help nearly 800 thousand young people remain in the US legally. They were brought in to the country by their parents, as minors. Moe Hickey works with the Park City Education Foundation to raise money to help pay for application renewals. He says it’s estimated that Utah has about 60,000 eligible DACA recipients between 13 and 30 years old.
“Generally speaking, the parents of these children are undocumented. The children are eligible for DACA. The parents aren’t. So, number one, you have to get somebody to come forward and say I’m undocumented, if the child’s young enough. It’s really hard to gauge the number but if you look at it anecdotally, look at it and what we’ve seen, the numbers in the school district are probably in the hundreds that are eligible or currently have a card. We’re not doing any new applications. That was on the advice of lawyers because they’re not being accepted, even though courts have upheld they could be accepted because it’s a fool’s errand at the moment.”
Hickey says the DACA program should be used as a model to expand immigration policy. Applicants have background checks, they can’t have a felony, they have to be finger printed. They must be gainfully employed, in college or in the military. He says the courts have upheld DACA but it continues to be challenged in higher courts.
“The real effect locally is, and I think you can talk to the administrators at the high school, students have this uncertainty now. We’ve promised that if you work hard, if you study hard, if you maintain good grades, you have an opportunity. Well, speaking to the students and speaking to the applicants, they don’t believe that anymore. There’s a feeling of distrust. There’s a feeling of uncertainty. It really is a problem that’s beginning to cause problems within the schools and the communities. I’ve heard the great stories. A person is now back in school because they got the DACA card renewed. I’ve also heard of the people who lost their jobs because the renewal didn’t come back in time.”
Hickey says not all DACA recipients are from Mexico. He says a recent announcement from the Trump administration will make legal immigration more difficult.
“We’re seeing a lot of Asian DACA recipients. We’ve seen that here and we’ve seen it across the country. And we’ve seen (people) from Africa. So, it’s an international issue. The administration announced that they’re gong to be closing US immigration offices overseas. So, now, we’re going to have less of a place for people to go and apply to get in legally. That just highlights how this argument takes these turns. Which is, we want people to come here legally so let’s just close the legal path.”
DACA does not allow the card holder to apply for financial assistance for college or receive free tuition. Renewals cost $495.00 every two years.
“It allows them to remain in the country legally. If they want to work, it allows them to have a social security card to be able to work. To get a legal driver’s license. Specific to Utah, that’s pretty much what it does.”
They’ve paid for a total of 80 DACA renewals and Hickey says his group will likely start work on number 81 next week. Go to the Park City Education Foundation website to make a donation. It’s https://pcef4kids.org Select the donation tab and be sure to write that it’s for a DACA donation in the comments section.