Arizona groups raising money to help young people apply for DACA

Aug 7, 2018, 4:55 AM
Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA chant slogans and carry signs whi...

Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA chant slogans and carry signs while joining a Labor Day rally in downtown Los Angeles, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

PHOENIX — Groups in Arizona are ramping up efforts to raise money and help young undocumented immigrants apply for a program that protects them from deportation, after a federal judge ruled the Trump administration must fully restore the program.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates on Friday said the administration failed to “elaborate meaningfully on the agency’s primarily rationale for its decision” to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA.

The Arizona Center for Empowerment is one of the local groups fundraising money to help DACA recipients renew their applications, which costs $495.

The group invites people to “sponsor a dreamer” and to donate to the DACA Renewal Fund.

Living United for Change in Arizona, or LUCHA, is also helping out. The group recently helped cover the renewal application costs for about 100 DACA recipients using grants and donations.

LUCHA also connects DACA recipients with Marisol Credit Union, which gives zero percent interest loans for those who struggle to come up with the $495 needed to cover their renewal applications.

Aldo Gonzalez, immigration service coordinator for LUCHA, said they’ve also set up a computer lab to help with the application process.

“These last few weeks, we’ve been really, really busy,” he said. “We’ve had days where we have about 10 applicants come in.”

There were about 28,000 DACA recipients living in Arizona when the Trump administration announced in January it was ending the program. Those already benefiting from the program were allowed to continue renewing their applications thanks to a series of court rulings, but no new applications were accepted.

Gonzalez said their efforts could ramp up even more if new DACA applications are accepted.

Though Bates said the Trump administration failed to explain the legal basis for ending DACA and needed to start accepting new applications, he put his decision on hold to give the administration 20 days to appeal.

Phoenix immigration attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado said Bates had already given the Trump administration 90 days to restate its argument to end the DACA program.

“You already gave them 90 days to come up with a better answer,” Maldonado said. “They got back to you within 90 days, and they didn’t give you a better answer.”

“This is not holding their feet to the fire,” he added. “This is giving them a second chance after you already gave them one chance.”

Gonzalez said they’re already getting ready to help more people if the Trump administration is required to accept new applications for DACA. He said they’ve already started giving out lists of documents that need to be collected, such as school transcripts.

“If that does happen, we’re going to have them come in and they’ll be one of the first ones to be able to apply,” he said.

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Arizona groups raising money to help young people apply for DACA