September-October 2013

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NAVIGATE RESOURCES: Table of Contents Browse InfoNet by Sheeba Raj F or many, a grant of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a double-edged sword. Not only does it give recipients work authorization and a reprieve from deportation for two years, it also gives them an immigration status that might be different from that of other family members in the same household and brings some unwanted attention. For example, Erika Andiola, a DACA recipient, made the news recently when she was offered a job to work for Arizona Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. On that same day, immigration officials took Andiola's mother and older brother into custody. "I'm not OK with just having a job. I need to have my family with me to make sure I am as happy as I can be," Andiola said while serving on a five-member panel convened on August 16, 2013, at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. The members met to reflect on the progress of the DACA program following its one-year anniversary. The hybrid immigrant status in the households of many DACA recipients is one of the drawbacks evoking mixed emotions about the initiative implemented by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), said Tom K. Wong, assistant professor of political science at the University of California-San Diego and once an undocumented immigrant himself. Echoing that sentiment, Roberto G. Gonzales, assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, called for greater social integration, saying, "DACA recipients don't live in a vacuum. They are part of families and communities and their fates are tied to what happens to their parents, neighbors, and so forth." He added that an increase in mental health services is critical to the well-being of these DREAMers because they are entering adulthood with so much stress. The panelists also expressed concern about the rela- Find a Member ? ! Contact a Mentor Shop Agora tively low numbers of older applicants. According to data obtained by the Brookings Institution through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, only 24 percent of DACA applicants from August 15, 2012, to March 22, 2013, are 24 or older. But 36 percent were 18 or younger when they applied and 40 percent were between 19 and 23 years old. Audrey Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that the data is skewed toward a younger population because it typically consists of students who hear the pitch for DACA being made by school administrators. And as they approach adulthood, the desire to drive and apply for college or the military motivates them to pursue DACA. On the other hand, older applicants are usually not matriculated, so they are more likely to miss out on the information and resources. Assembling enough documents establishing eligibility proves challenging to many otherwise qualified candidates. For example, older Watch the candidates might have a difficult DACA time properly documenting conTurns 1 tinuous presence in the United panel States since 2007, so they might discussion. think twice about applying for DACA, Singer said. Also, some might not have identity documents, such as a birth certificate, said Wong. He also noted that the denial rates for Mexicans are lower than those of other applicants because, among other reasons, the Mexican consulates have increased staff and hours to help applicants document their undocumented status. Wong said that he hasn't heard the same for other consulates, though. But even if prospective candidates have ambition and the requisite documents, cost is often a barrier to a successful DACA application. Many families struggle to save the $465 fee per eligible child, as well as attorney's fees. "Flat fees would help more young people u S EPTEMBER/ O CTOBER 2013 23

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