2012 DACA recipients: Don’t forget to renew to keep your status

don'tThe Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development, and the Young Men’s Initiative launched a new public awareness campaign to encourage the city’s undocumented youth to seek eligibility information and enroll in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA).

DACA, a federal program introduced by President Obama in 2012, offers temporary protection against deportation, work authorization, and a Social Security card to certain young immigrants who came to the United States before their 16th birthdays, provided they meet residency, criminal background, and education or military service requirements.

The first DACA recipients from 2012 will need to begin renewing their two-year DACA status this month. Despite a significant $18 million city investment in funding to legal, literacy, and outreach providers to support potentially eligible immigrants in applying for DACA and upcoming renewals, more than half of the approximately 79,000 potentially eligible immigrants in New York City have not yet applied for DACA.

Fewer than 34,000 applications have been submitted in New York State as of March 31, 2014, meaning the city’s application numbers are estimated to be significantly less than 43 percent, as compared to an estimated application rate of 51.8 percent nationwide. New York City’s lower application rate is due to a range of factors, including the misperception that DACA is only for college-bound young people; in New York City, the eligible population is far more diverse than the cap-and-gown imagery that has dominated the messaging on this program.

“I am thrilled to be able to help spread the word about a program as important and valuable as DACA,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal. “DACA has already helped tens of thousands of New Yorkers gain crucial benefits, including protection from deportation, work authorization, in-state tuition at CUNY, and access to public health insurance programs. The city wants to help the thousands and thousands more immigrant youth who stand to benefit from DACA.”

Filipino American immigration lawyer Cristina Godinez is among those urging Filipino youngsters to apply for renewal of their permits to stay and work for another two years. She said the first DACA approvals will begin to expire in September 2014. A renewal is necessary to avoid a lapse.

“According to the USCIS, the first DACA approvals will expire in September 2014 and is urging the submission of the DACA renewal requests 120 days prior to renewal. People with DACA who don’t apply for and get DACA renewal will no longer be able to work legally in the U.S, and are potentially deportable,” she said.

The USCIS said more than 560,000 were approved for DACA as of April 2014.

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