Juan Belman migrated from Mexico to Austin in 2003, and now he works as a program manager at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is one of 600,000 young migrants across the country who qualified for limited protection from deportation and authorization to work under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program implemented in 2012.
But as the DACA program reaches its 10th anniversary, its future, and that of 104,000 Texans (and 600,000 recipients across America) who have relied on their DACA status to seek better lives and contribute to their communities hangs in the balance. Last summer, a federal judge in Texas ruled that DACA is illegal and ordered President Joe Biden’s administration to stop granting new applications. In turn, President Biden asked the Fifth Circuit to overrule the ruling, and it is expected the case will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
While the ruling does not affect current DACA recipients, work permits expire after two years and require a $495 fee to complete an application for renewal. The renewal process can take several months, requires overwhelming documentation and a biometric background check. Additionally, the pandemic further delayed a process that is already time-consuming and emotionally draining.
Belman has been preparing himself for the worst-case scenario since he first qualified for the program. “Thinking back to the election of Trump, I think DACA recipients were very afraid of what that would mean for us, DACA and for our families,” he told the Austin American-Statesman. “From the very beginning, we were bracing for the DACA program to end, and so people were figuring out alternative plans, including moving out of the country and continuing their lives elsewhere, but many others were devastated.”
While the hope of advocates and allies of the immigrant community is for our lawmakers to adopt an efficient and effective permanent pathway to citizenship, everyday Texans like yourself can make a difference in helping ensure current DACA recipients remain in the United States.
By donating to credible organizations that serve first-time and repeat DACA applicants, you can increase the possibility that they obtain legal representation, social services, advocacy, and financial assistance.
Jolt Action is asking its supporters, allies, friends and community to donate to the Equal Justice Center in Texas by making your gift payable to the organization’s DACA, Citizenship & Immigrant Justice Project. The EJC is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, charitable organization
You can donate online here or by mailed check payable to:
Equal Justice Center
314 E Highland Mall Blvd., Suite #401
Austin, TX 78752