Many young local immigrants, known as Dreamers, are rushing to renew their federal protection from being deported — an opportunity that just sprang up this week. No one knows when the feds will stop taking the renewal applications for the Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
That uncertainty, which could hinge on what Congress may or may not do, means that clients are coming to South Bend immigration attorney Mike Durham “confused” and “scared.”
Congress is trying to come up with a replacement or solution to DACA by Friday, which is the deadline to come up with legislation to keep federal agencies from shutting down.
Meanwhile, another local group of so-called Dreamers is staging sit-ins this week in congressional leaders’ offices in Washington, D.C.
They are seeking a solution to DACA that is permanent — not just another two-year renewal. And they want a “clean” bill that doesn’t include a border wall or anything that “leverages our families and puts them at risk,” said Juan Constantino, 24, who renewed his two-year DACA protection last fall.
Constantino stayed in South Bend, where he coordinates development for the nonprofit La Casa de Amistad and its ID card program for South Bend residents.
Luis Gonzalez was among the 19 who went, including 11 from South Bend, Goshen and Elkhart and the rest from central and southern Indiana, following the lead of organizers from Dreamers in Action and the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance. They were among dozens, perhaps hundreds, in the capitol from around the country who’d been gathered by various groups.
At age 23, he will graduate this spring with bachelor’s degrees in marketing and advertising from IU South Bend, then hopes to continue working a marketing job he’d started four years ago at a local company. What will he do with his career?