In anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on DACA, Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs recommends that DACA recipients renew their status
Seattle (March 16, 2020) – The City of Seattle today announced a unique public-private partnership to provide support for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court could soon terminate the program. Financial contributions from the City of Seattle and Facebook, Inc. have resulted in a $75,000 fund that DACA recipients can access to receive help to afford the DACA application renewal fee.
The Seattle-based tech nonprofit sea.citi assisted with the fundraising effort. Nonprofit housing and service provider El Centro de la Raza (The Center for People of All Races or “El Centro”) will administer the DACA scholarship application process, the details of which are available online at: www.elcentrodelaraza.org/get-help/daca.
“Too many of our immigrant neighbors have been living with uncertainty and fear. These workers, entrepreneurs, and innovators have devoted years of their lives to help strengthen both our great city and country. They’ve raised families, volunteered for their communities, and are part of the fabric of our City,” said Mayor Durkan. “DACA ensures there’s a place in our City for these community members’ hard work, keeps families together, and makes our communities safer. I encourage all those who are eligible to renew their DACA status now, and I am grateful to Facebook, El Centro, and sea.citi for their commitment to our immigrant and refugee communities.”
“At Facebook, community is at the heart of everything we do. I want to thank the City of Seattle, El Centro de la Raza and sea.citi for this first-of-a-kind effort supporting DACA recipients. It’s partners like you and moments like this that bring people together to build community embracing everyone. As an immigrant myself, I know firsthand that immigrants, no matter their status, can and want to contribute to their communities,” said Vijaye Raji, Vice President of Entertainment, Head of Office Facebook Seattle.
The roots of this project date back to the 2019 budget season. Former Seattle City Councilmember Abel Pacheco proposed $50,000 to the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) as one-time funding to help DACA recipients afford the $495 renewal fee. Successfully renewing one’s DACA status then enables them to safely remain in the country and get a work visa to contribute their talents and skills to the local economy. After Pacheco’s term on the Council ended, he partnered with sea.citi CEO Nicholas Merriam to find a match for the City of Seattle’s investment.
Established by President Obama in 2012, DACA granted a form of temporary relief from deportation to undocumented youth who came to the U.S. before the age of 16, who resided in the U.S. since June 2007, and other requirements. DACA also provides eligibility for these same individuals to receive a permit to work legally. DACA status is renewable every two years. More than 800,000 undocumented youth nationwide received this temporary relief. Approximately 18,000 DACA recipients live in Washington, and the Seattle Metropolitan Area is home to more than 7,300 DACA recipients.
“Growing up, I had both family and friends who were undocumented. So, this is personal,” says Pacheco. “Not just where I lived, but all over the country, incredibly talented and innovative young people want nothing more than to create the next game-changing app or find cures for today’s worst diseases. But many are unable because our broken and outdated immigration system won’t let them. I hope this funding can serve as a stop-gap until Congress and the president pass a real solution: comprehensive immigration reform.”
This funding comes at a pivotal time for many immigrants who were brought to the U.S. at a young age. In September 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would end the program. However, in January 2018, a federal judge in California temporarily blocked Trump’s action. Then last November, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding whether DACA can end. They are likely to rule on the case before June 2020. Until that ruling comes, individuals who have previously been granted DACA and remain eligible can still renew. However, people eligible for DACA, but who have never been granted the status in the past in the past, are unable to apply.
Through a partnership with OIRA, El Centro will administer the DACA scholarship funds. OIRA has previously funded DACA support services since 2017 in the form of coordinated public education campaigns, partnerships to organize legal clinics for DACA-eligible youth, and a smaller $15,000 fund for partial and full scholarships.
“The Seattle community has long led the way on supporting immigrants and immigrant communities,” says El Centro executive director Estella Ortega. “From the 1970s when my late husband and Seattle ‘Amigo’ Roberto Maestas led the occupation of the old Beacon Hill School to today with El Centro now providing affordable housing and community services, immigrants have always been what makes America great.”
Scholarship funds are available to individuals who have or previously had DACA status, have a completed DACA renewal application, and who reside in Seattle, or work in Seattle, or go to school in Seattle. Successful DACA scholarship grantees will receive a check made out to the Department of Homeland Security to submit with their DACA renewal application. All application processes will require the completion of an eligibility form and a 30-minute video or phone appointment with an El Centro staff member.
To learn more and schedule an appointment, applicants can go to: www.elcentrodelaraza.org/get-help/daca, email Dulce Gutierrez Vasquez at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: (206) 957-4605. If other interested individuals or companies would like support these efforts, please contact Joaquin Uy at email@example.com.