The future of nearly 13,000 Nevadans is uncertain following President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) program. The Obama-era protections ensured nearly 800,000 immigrants—all under the age of 31 and with no criminal record—would be safe from deportation. The program will be phased out in March, leaving Congress six months to pass replacement legislation, after which many previously protected Nevadans would be candidates for deportation.
“There is a lot of bipartisan support right now, so I think there’s definitely reason to be hopeful,” says Laura Barrera, a legal fellow with Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps. “But given other things we’ve seen this administration do and the anti-immigrant agenda, there’s really no way to know what’s going to happen.”
People whose DACA status expires between now and March 5 have until October 5 to renew their forms, which will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis according to the Department of Homeland Security website. Once renewed, benefits are still valid for two years from the issue date. UNLV’s Boyd School of Law’s Immigration Law Society, in partnership with La Voz and the Black Law Student Association, will host an informational session about DACA on Saturday, September 16. The school is currently foregoing service fees for those who need assistance; however, the DACA renewal fee is $495 and cannot be waived.
For many, that renewal fee is too costly. “That’s like a rent payment for some people,” says Laura Martin, the Associate Director at Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN). The nonprofit is currently taking donations to assist DACA beneficiaries with their renewal fees, but the best thing to do is to help families directly, Martin says. “If you know a Dreamer that will have a hard time paying [the fees], just give them the money.”
Meanwhile, it will be increasingly important that constituents call their legislators over the next six months and make their voices heard, Barrera says. “DACA was about letting people live and work and support themselves, but that’s not their only value. These are people’s friends and neighbors. We should be hopeful about the possibility of legislation passing, but everyone needs to keep pushing their legislators to do something about it.”