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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

After Trump's DACA Defeat, St. Louis Raises Money for Applicants

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2020 at 12:26 PM

click to enlarge Dreamers and their supporters rallied in 2017 outside of Sen. Roy Blunt's office in Clayton. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • DOYLE MURPHY
  • Dreamers and their supporters rallied in 2017 outside of Sen. Roy Blunt's office in Clayton.

The dream is alive, but expensive.

Following a federal judge's ruling against the Trump administration's long-running attack on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, organizations in the St. Louis metro have begun working to raise money for new DACA applicants.



The fundraiser's goal is to cover the $495 application fee for "Dreamers." Even with the federal court's ruling, the up-front costs remain a serious barrier for many of the young applicants, especially during a job-crushing pandemic.

"DACA recipients are our neighbors, friends, colleagues and family," Sara John, executive director of the St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America, said in a news release. "As you join our organizations in the longer fight for legislative justice for all immigrants, we need you to stand with DACA recipients to ensure the fullest welcome and inclusion in our communities as possible.”

Trump made ending DACA part of his hardline policies that sought to choke off immigration any way it could, including sharp reductions in the number of refugees allowed into the country each year, a harsh and clumsy family separation policy, a failed effort to wall off the southern border, and shifting deportation priorities away from violent criminals to people previously deemed by the government to present little to no threat.

In September 2017, the Trump administration ordered an end to DACA, despite its widespread support among both Democrats and Republicans. The program allows recipients a number of basic privileges, including the ability to work and obtain drivers' licenses. A Pew research poll released this past June found that 74 percent of adults, including a majority of Republicans, were in support of granting permanent legal status to people who entered the country illegally as children.

Trump's move to kill DACA would have made people in the program eligible for deportation when their temporary status ended, and it also blocked new applicants.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled his order was illegal, but the administration still tried to severely restrict it. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf barred new applications and cut the length of work permits in half to one year from two. Legal battles followed, and in early December U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis found that Wolf had illegally tried to dodge the court's orders. The judge also found that Wolf did not have the authority to implement the restrictions because he had never been properly appointed.

Garaufis has since forced DHS to reopen the application process and give him a status report in early January on the number of applications.

But even with the process fully reopening for the first time in three years, young immigrants still face hurdles. An ongoing suit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — the same indicted AG who sued to overturn presidential election results in battleground states that went for President-elect Joe Biden — argues DACA is illegal.

There's also the logistical challenges of just applying, and that includes the cost. A coalition of local organizations — Missouri Dreamers (MODreamers), the Migrant and Immigration Community Action (MICA) Project and IFCLA — are trying to raise $10,000 by the end of the year to cover the application fees.

They're accepting donations through IFCLA's site. Potential recipients can also apply for funding from the organizations.

More than 3,500 Missourians are already DACA recipients, and the organizations think hundreds more could benefit.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.
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