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December 2012

Keeping the DREAM Alive

Emergency grants help young immigrants apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Antonio Alarcon, youth leader with Make the Road New York, speaks at a press conference after submitting his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application. Photo: Joanna Toro

"I am undocumented and live here alone since my parents had to return to Mexico. I have been very worried about my future because without the ability to get a good job, it would be very hard for me to survive. The Deferred Action program gives me hope and I am looking forward to pursuing a career as a journalist." - Antonio Alarcon

On June 15, 2012, President Obama signed an executive order to provide qualified young immigrants the opportunity to work and go to school without fear of deportation. The Trust board wanted to respond swiftly and days after the government released the application in August, The Trust made six emergency grants totaling $355,000 to get out accurate information, train lawyers, and give individual legal help to thousands of the City’s undocumented youth.

“Young people and their families need immediate information about the benefits, requirements, and risks,” says Shawn Morehead, program officer at The Trust. “Although a successful application will open doors, a young person needs complete and accurate information to make a wise decision about whether to apply.”

“Immediately after this announcement, immigrant organizations were inundated with hundreds of calls from families wanting more information,” says Steven Choi, executive of the MinKwon Center for Community Action. “The demand was great, but there were some major obstacles. Details about the application qualifications have been seriously lacking—and in their absence, dozens of reports of unscrupulous lawyers and fraudulent notarios have proliferated. Many young people were also worried that their parents would be exposed to deportation if they applied.” A grant of $100,000 to MinKwon is helping eight immigrant groups educate their communities as well as assist eligible immigrants apply for deferred action and work authorization.

Young people often seek guidance from people their own age. A $70,000 grant to Make the Road New York will train youth leaders to give the basics about the policy to their peers and refer them to application clinics.

The New York Immigration Coalition will use a $50,000 grant to write informational materials, coordinate outreach and legal clinics throughout the City, and help place young people in application workshops. Grants of $25,000 to the Association of the Bar of the City of New York Fund; $40,000 to Volunteers of Legal Service; and $70,000 to New York Legal Assistance Group will help attorneys give free application guidance.

The Trust’s Fund for New Citizens, dedicated to helping immigrants in the City, has also given $215,000 to the Legal Aid Society for community clinics and $30,000 to the New York State Youth Leadership Council for outreach.

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