PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced today that she and a coalition of individuals and organizations have secured more than $170,000 in commitments from donors to cover the $495 renewal fee for every DREAMer in Rhode Island who is eligible to apply for renewal of their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status by October 5, 2017, the final date by which all such applications must be received by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
"A couple of weeks ago, when the Trump administration announced its plan to end the DACA program, we gathered in Central Falls and pledged to do everything in our power to stand up for Rhode Island's DREAMers," Raimondo said. "We're not going to allow $495 to stand in the way of our neighbors' dreams. Now is the time to fight for our values and take action against hatred and bigotry."
Through the generosity of several local and national funders, no Rhode Island DREAMer will need to pay the $495 application fee to apply for a two-year extension of their DACA status. The Rhode Island Foundation is coordinating contributions and making grants to community agencies that have stepped up to do this work.
"As the state's community foundation, our mission is to meet the needs of all Rhode Islanders; DREAMers are Rhode Islanders," said Neil D. Steinberg, President & CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. "We are proud to work with our generous donors, the Governor, and local community agencies to provide the funding needed to offset the cost of DACA renewal fee payments for those who are eligible."
Created by President Obama in 2012, the DACA program grants temporary deportation relief and work authorization to eligible individuals who were brought to the United States as undocumented immigrants at a young age. On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration repealed the order establishing DACA and announced it will end the program in March. More than 1,200 DACA recipients live in Rhode Island and are directly impacted by the President's decision.
Governor Raimondo and a coalition of Rhode Island advocacy organizations also announced a joint effort to help DREAMers threatened by President Trump's repeal of DACA. The Rhode Island Center for Justice, the Immigration Clinic at the Roger Williams University School of Law, the Pro Bono Collaborative at the Roger Williams University School of Law, Progreso Latino, Dorcas International Institute and the Coalition of Advocates for Student Opportunities (CASO) will coordinate outreach and services including pro-bono legal representation and assistance filing DACA renewal applications.
"It is critically important to get the word out to Rhode Island Dreamers and other immigrants that help is available. We want immigrants to know they are not alone," said CASO chairwoman Marta V. Martinez.
Governor Raimondo also announced her appointment of staff in the Office of Constituent Affairs to serve as the administration's liaison to the network. The administration will also designate staff from other state agencies to serve as liaisons to DREAMers with questions about the impact of the end of the program and to direct DREAMers to resources and assistance.