Legal Aid Justice Center Reaching Out to DACA Recipients for Renewal Help
A Charlottesville-based nonprofit is hurrying to help hundreds of Virginians brought to the United States illegally as children.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Charlottesville-based nonprofit is hurrying to help hundreds of Virginians brought to the United States illegally as children.
The so-called "Dreamers" could run out of time; in just days, to renew their protection under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Dozens of Virginia lawmakers, faith leaders, and advocacy groups signed on to a letter sent to Virginia's congressional delegation late Wednesday. It urges them to pass a “Dream Act” by the end of the week.
In the mean time, the Legal Aid Justice Center is reaching out to hundreds of Dreamer clients and immigration advocacy groups to get the word out about a limited timeframe to renew their DACA.
“This opportunity might not last very long,” immigration attorney Deena Sharuk said.
Sharuk and a team at Charlottesville's Legal Aid Justice Center are rushing to help as many Dreamers as they can renew their protection from deportation.
“The problem is there's so much uncertainty when it comes to immigration enforcement in the United States these days,” Sharuk.
The center is welcoming walk-in clients and extending hours to help recipients of DACA. Late last week, a federal court ordered the government to continue accepting DACA renewals.
“This creates a window of opportunity for people whose DACA has expired or people whose DACA will expire within the next year,” Sharuk said.
President Donald Trump's administration ended the Obama-era immigration policy in September.
An immigration deal to protect Dreamers is tied up in congressional politics surrounding a potential government shutdown Friday.
“They're not just words, they affect people's lives. They affect people's abilities to live and work and stay in this country. There's just a great deal of confusion,” Sharuk said.
The rush to renew isn't cheap. It costs each DACA recipient $495 in federal fees to apply.
“This is a huge burden with a very little amount of time,” Sharuk said.
Sharuk encourages the community to put pressure on their lawmakers to protect Dreamers with a pathway to citizenship.
“Dreamers are no different than you and I. They grew up here. They've lived their lives here. They have status in this country, and now all of a sudden that status is going away.
The Legal Aid Office in Charlottesville is staying open late Thursday, Jan. 18, from 9 to 8 p.m. and 9 to 5 p.m. Friday.
DACA recipients can walk-in to get help with renewals.