Help for Dreamers

Hugo Medina is actively involved in several organizations to help those under DACA. Photo by Chris Dorantes.

On Sept. 5 2017, President Trump ordered the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA is an immigration policy that allows children who were brought to the US illegally under the age of 16 to receive deferred action from deportation, renewable every two years. It also allows minors to obtain a work permit and helps pave their way to citizenship. The decision to end DACA leaves many Dreamers unsure about their future in this country. Many fear being deported to a country that they don’t know.

The Santa Fe Dreamers Project is one group that is determined to fight for Dreamers. Executive Director Allegra Love says that while Santa Fe Dreamers knew this was coming “it was still a slap in the face.” She says she’s seen a range of reactions from Dreamers from uncertainty to disbelief. Fear of mass deportations and immigration roundups once the program officially discontinues March 5, 2018 are on the minds of many Dreamers and immigration attorneys. There is also the worry that once the policy ends, the government will release private information such as addresses, fingerprints and family information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), despite the government promising Dreamers that that information wouldn’t be used against them and their families. This information could be used by ICE to track down undocumented immigrants for deportation.  “It continues to be a nightmare,” Love says.

Executive Director Allegra Love is here to help. Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Dreamer’s Project.

Dreamer Hugo Medina is the accounts receivable coordinator at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. “I’m a little worried… just knowing that I won’t be able to renew my work permit next year and [I’m worried about] my job situation after that,” Medina says and adds that still he’s determined to keep fighting. Medina is part of the organization New Mexico Dreamers in Action which is associated with The New Mexico Dream Team in Albuquerque and the national program United We Dream. Medina says there’s a big push for four separate bills in congress to protect Dreamers: the DREAM Act, Breach Act, RAC Act, and the Hope Act. Medina thinks that the DREAM Act has the best chance of passing, which would allow those under DACA to obtain work permits and temporary residence permits

Santa Fe Dreamers no. one priority right now is getting good information out to those that are affected. The organization already held a clinic Sept. 8 to help with DACA renewals, as these must be in prior to Oct. 5, 2017. Santa Fe Dreamers are to hold several clinics all over New Mexico including 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sep 18 at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Taos Las Cumbres Community Services office. More information about clinics can be found by following Santa Fe Dreamers on Facebook.  Medina says there will also be meetings to talk about how Dreamers and allies alike can push congress to act, such as the meeting taking place at 6 p.m. Friday Sept. 14 at the Cesar Chavez Elementary School.

Those looking to get involved visit Santa Fe Dreamers is urging allies to call key legislators, a list of which can be found on its website. People can also send postcards and letters to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at H-232 The Capitol Washington, DC 20515 and Majority Leader Mitch McConnel at 317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510. A “Defend DACA toolkit” is also available on the Santa Fe Dreamers website.