Rhode Island Will Pay for Dreamers to Renew Their DACA Status

RHODE ISLAND  —  Rhode Island is taking an unprecedented step to hold on to its Dreamers.

The state will cover the $495 application fee for all DACA recipients who are eligible to reapply to the program before it ends, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Monday.

“We’re not going to allow $495 to stand in the way of our neighbors’ dreams,” Raimondo, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration decided to terminate the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, which has allowed roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to live, work and study in the country without fear of deportation.

Trump gave Dreamers whose DACA permits expire before March 5, 2018 one month (or until October 5) to apply for a renewal. Those permits will remain valid for another two years.

Related: DACA students are worried. The clock is ticking

Rhode Island is the first state cover renewal fees for residents as they scramble to get their applications in, Raimondo’s office said.

“As if it weren’t stressful enough … to have the rug pulled out from under you, you basically have a couple of weeks to get renewed,” Raimondo said at a press conference. “And you have to come up with $500.”

About 1,200 Rhode Island residents are DACA recipients, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The state believes between 250 and 350 people are eligible to renew their status.

So far, more than $170,000 has been collected from local and national donors to bankroll the initiative. The Rhode Island Foundation, which finances nonprofits in the state and coordinated the fundraising effort, did not reply to a request for information as to who has contributed.

Several other groups have also stepped up to cover DACA renewal fees for Dreamers around the country.

Advocacy groups FWD.us and United We Dream have banded together to form the “DACA Renewal Fund,” which is soliciting donations to subsidize fees for those who need it. The groups say they’ve helped 700 DACA recipients reapply to date.

And Mission Asset Fund, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, announced last week that it’s offering $1 million in DACA renewal scholarships to those who qualify. Organizers expect to assist more than 2,000 people.

Half of the fund is earmarked for California students attending community colleges, California State universities or the University of California.

In all, about 154,000 Dreamers are eligible to re-up their DACA permits before the Oct. 5 deadline, the Mission Asset Fund said.

Trump Pushes Back on Dems’ Claims of DACA Deal

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President Donald Trump pushed back Thursday morning against claims by top congressional Democrats that a deal has been reached over legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants and that a border-security package would not include a wall along the US-Mexico border.

“No deal was made last night on DACA,” Trump tweeted. “Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.”

Late Wednesday, Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi said they had “agreed to enshrine the protections of (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides” following a dinner at the White House.

But Trump also refuted that specific assertion by the Democratic leaders about a border wall, tweeting on Thursday, “The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.”

Trump also defended on Twitter the undocumented immigrants protected under DACA, calling them “good, educated and accomplished young people” who “have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own.”

If a deal on some immigration and border issues happens, it would be the second major agreement between Trump, Schumer and Pelosi this month following their pact last week to raise the debt ceiling and extend government funding into December that left the GOP and some of Trump’s closest allies flabbergasted.

DACA had protected nearly 800,000 individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation. The Trump administration announced last week it would give Congress six months to pass legislation preserving those provisions before the program was terminated.

The bipartisan DREAM Act — a more comprehensive immigration bill that was proposed years ago but never passed — would be part of the arrangement, a person briefed on the meeting said.

A White House official said in a statement Wednesday that the topics discussed at the dinner included tax reform, border security, DACA, infrastructure and trade.

“This is a positive step toward the President’s strong commitment to bipartisan solutions for the issues most important to all Americans,” the statement said. “The administration looks forward to continuing these conversations with leadership on both sides of the aisle.”

White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short confirmed that the President and Democrats agreed to work to find a legislative fix for DACA, but he called Democrats’ claim of a deal that would exclude wall funding “intentionally misleading.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders immediately pushed back on the idea the wall would be dropped.

“While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to,” Sanders tweeted on Wednesday.

Schumer’s communications director Matt House retweeted Sanders’ statement, then added that Trump had indeed agreed to leaving the border wall out of the equation — at least for this round.

“The President made clear he would continue pushing the wall, just not as part of this agreement,” House tweeted.

Conservatives outraged

Schumer and Pelosi’s statement on Wednesday quickly sent shockwaves through Trump’s conservative base, as his hardline stance on immigration was a core tenet of his campaign.

“Unbelievable! Amnesty is a pardon for immigration law breakers coupled with the reward of the objective of their crime,” tweeted Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.

Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham tweeted that “Dems’ “Border security” pledge is MEANINGLESS.” Staunch Trump ally Sean Hannity added, “Weak R’s have betrayed voters. @POTUS needs to stay the course and keep his promises or it’s over! Pelosi and Schumer can never be trusted.”

And Breitbart News, run by Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, headlined news of the alleged deal Wednesday with “Amnesty Don.”

Amid the criticism Wednesday night, Trump weighed in on tax reform and his former election rival, Hillary Clinton, waiting to respond to the reaction until Thursday morning.

GOP leaders absent from dinner

Making a deal that finds a way to keep the individuals who benefit under DACA in the United States shows the challenge of striking bipartisan deals in Washington.

Congressional Republican leaders were absent from Wednesday’s dinner, which featured Chinese food and chocolate pie for dessert, sources said, and it was not immediately clear how they would handle such legislation on Capitol Hill.

The dinner took place the same day House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with Democratic leadership and representatives from groups in the Capitol.

“It’s the beginning of a listening that the President asked us to do,” McCarthy said. “We’ve got a broken immigration system we’ve got to fix. It was the beginning of a discussion where we were listening to concerns.”

Immigrants Push Importance of Helping Others at Des Moines Luncheon

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  They once had challenging childhoods in other countries but later managed to find a way to start a life in Iowa. Now, they are sharing their successes and reaching out to help others.

On Tuesday, Meredith Corporation hosted the four immigrants at a luncheon in Des Moines to promote inclusion. Each laid out how they began in their native countries under difficult lives and found success in Iowa.

On the panel:

Alex Duong  --  He didn't speak English when his family left Vietnam to find better opportunities in Clinton. Now, he speaks six languages and manages marketing and internal communications for Mediacom.

Serkan Usta  --  His mother, after his father abandoned the family, dropped him off at an orphanage in Turkey. Now, he is Artistic Director of Ballet Des Moines and co-owns School of Classical Ballet and Dance.

Li Zhao Mandelbaum  --  Her grandmother left the hospital disappointedly because Li wasn't born a boy. China had a one-child policy then, and her grandmother hoped for a grandson to help the family name survive. Zhao is now the founder of the China Iowa Group, a consulting firm.

Kenia Calderon  --  Her family fled gang violence in El Salvador. She is now a Latina activist and a DACA recipient, but her work permit is only valid until October, 2018. Because President Trump has called for the end of DACA, she is concerned she could get deported.

During the luncheon, the immigrants talked about the importance of giving back to others, since they have benefited so much during their time in the United States.

All of the individuals are previous honorees of the Iowa International Center's Passport to Prosperity.  

Meredith periodically hosts events like this to promote understanding of diversity and inclusion. 

The Insiders: September 10th Edition, What Should Happen to DACA?

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  What do you think should happen to DACA?

Protests have taken place across the country since President Trump announced the potential end of the program, and there have been many mixed opinions as to what should happen next.

Some think children and parents who came here illegally should all be deported, some think the children should be allowed to stay but their parents should be deported, and others think both children and parents should be able to stay.

Share your opinion in a discussion on Political Director Dave Price's Facebook page.

Iowa Joins Lawsuit Challenging President Trump’s Action on DACA

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Attorney General Tom Miller on Wednesday joined 15 other attorneys general in filing a federal lawsuit against President Trump’s decision to rescind protections for undocumented immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.

The program, instituted by an executive order by President Barack Obama, protects thousands of immigrants from deportation.  To be eligible for the protection an immigrant must have been brought to the US when they were 16 or younger and lived here before 2007.

On Tuesday the Trump administration announced the program would end in six months and challenged Congress to take action to address those covered under the program, known as “Dreamers.”

“DACA has protected hundreds of thousands of young people, including nearly 2,800 here in Iowa, who arrived illegally as children, grew up following the rules, and are very much a part of our fabric,” Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement Wednesday, “Our lawsuit alleges the Trump administration’s action to dismantle DACA violates peoples’ due process, denies them equal protection under our constitution, and causes ‘immediate harm’ to those whom DACA is intended to protect.”

In the last five years the US government has approved protection from deportation under DACA for more than 800,000 immigrants.

Dreamer Reacts to End of DACA

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Monica Reyes is the lead activist for DREAM Iowa, a statewide organization that supports the rights of immigrants. DREAM Iowa began as a Facebook group in 2012 in response to DACA, and is now in the process of becoming a 501(c)(3).

"I'm a dreamer," said Reyes. "I was brought here when I was three years old from Mexico and I have been here since then. I'm now 26, almost 27, and in 2012 I was able to apply for DACA."

Reyes says the application became available in August of 2012, and by October she was granted deferred action. After that, Reyes got a social security number, a driver's license, and a work permit. Reyes has done well here in Iowa, and says she's appreciative of the DACA program for the doors it opened for her.

"Within the first year I was able to buy a house, and then years after that I was able to finish my education at the University of Northern Iowa and I started my career," said Reyes. "Right now I'm a mortgage lender here in the Des Moines area, and I get to help people achieve the American dream."

And that's what Reyes wants not only for other dreamers, but for all undocumented immigrants.

"Who doesn't want hard working people that want a better future for their families to be part of this country and contribute?" said Reyes.

President Trump's decision to end DACA did not take Reyes by surprise. She expected this day would come and says even when she applied for deferred action she always knew DACA was a temporary fix, because it was an executive order and not a legislative solution. That's why she's hoping President Trump's decision to end DACA will present an opportunity for Congress to finally come up with a more comprehensive solution.

"Why not fix the broken immigration system that we have as a country," said Reyes. "Why not fix it so that it is more elastic and efficient?"

Trump Ends DACA, but Gives Congress Window to Save It

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WASHINGTON D.C.  —  The Trump administration on Tuesday formally announced the end of DACA — a program that had protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.

The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new applications for the program as of Tuesday and rescinded the Obama administration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday at the Justice Department.

In the five years since DACA was enacted, the nearly 800,000 individuals who have received the protections have started families, pursued careers and studied in schools and universities across the United States. The business community and education community at large has joined Democrats and many moderate Republicans in supporting the program, citing the contributions to society from the population and the sympathetic fact that many Dreamers have never known another home than the US.

In a statement after his agencies and attorney general announced the decision, President Donald Trump blamed former President Barack Obama for creating the program through executive authority and urged Congress to come up with a solution.

“It is now time for Congress to act!” he said.

Trump said that winding down the program would be more considerate than letting the courts end it, but emphasized he stands by his “America First” agenda.

“As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion — but through the lawful Democratic process — while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve,” Trump said. “We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans.”

The administration also announced a plan to continue renewing permits for anyone whose status expires in the next six months, giving Congress time to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study and live without fear in the US.

The Trump administration pitched the move as the “least disruptive” option available after facing a threat from 10 conservative state attorneys general to challenge the program in court, according to senior administration officials briefing reporters on the move during a conference call conducted on condition of anonymity.

CNN Money: Ending DACA hits U.S. economy where it hurts

Sessions had determined that the program would not be likely to withstand that court challenge, he said.

“The Department of Justice cannot defend this overreach,” Sessions said. “There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism. The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, (and) enforce our laws.”

Congress faces deadline

The move sets a clock for Congress to act to preserve the program’s protections before the DACA recipients begin losing their status March 5, 2018.

In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated his aspiration that Congress will reach a solution in time.

“It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country,” Ryan said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Trump’s move

“President Obama wrongly believed he had the authority to re-write our immigration law. Today’s action by President Trump corrects that fundamental mistake,” McConnell said in a statement. “This Congress will continue working on securing our border and ensuring a lawful system of immigration that works.”

No one’s DACA status will be revoked before it expires, administration officials said, and any applications already received by Tuesday will be processed.

Anyone who’s status expires by March 5 has one month to apply for a new two-year permit, and those applications will be processed.

If Congress were not to act, and DACA begins to expire, nearly 300,000 people could begin to lose their status in 2018, and more than 320,000 would lose their status from January to August 2019. More than 200,000 recipients have their DACA expiring in the window that DHS will allow renewal.


Speaking with reporters on a conference call on condition of anonymity, DHS did not rule out that anyone with expired DACA would then be subject to deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they will continue to prioritize for enforcement people with criminal records, people who re-enter the US illegally and those with final orders of removal.

But officials said there will be no formal guidance that former DACA recipients are not eligible for deportation, and ICE officers in the field who encounter them will be making a case-by-case judgment as to whether to arrest that individual and process them for deportation.

The administration insisted its approach was designed to offer some security to DACA recipients, emphasizing that if it had allowed the courts to decide the issue, then would have been risking an immediate and abrupt end to DACA at the hands of a judge.

But it also was made clear that once DACA begins to expire, if Congress doesn’t act, then people formerly protected “would be like any other person who’s in the country illegally,” according to a senior DHS official.

All of the information provided to the government by DACA applicants will remain in the DHS system. US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the program, will give that information to ICE if requested if “there’s a significant law enforcement or national security interest,” an official said.

While they won’t be specifically targeted, DHS said, they could be arrested and deported if they are encountered by ICE officers. And their information, which they provided extensively for their DACA applications, will continue to reside in DHS systems and could be accessed if officers feel it’s necessary in the course of an investigation.

DHS said it had on plans to issue formal guidelines on how former DACA recipients — or their information — will be treated beyond the current operating procedures of DHS.

“To be clear, what ICE is doing now is what Congress intended, we’re actually enforcing the law the way it is written,” said a senior ICE official. “(This is t)he first President who’s asked us to enforce the law the way it is written and not asked us to have some executive interpretation of the law.”

The officials placed the onus on Congress to make any changes to the system.

As President Mulls DACA, Iowans Call on Senator Ernst for Support

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  A handful of eyes were glued to the TV in Senator Joni Ernst’s downtown office, listening as President Trump announced he would make a decision on the future of DACA either late Friday or over the weekend.

Several Iowans held a sit-in at the senator’s office, demanding a showing of support for DACA by Senator Ernst.

DACA is an Obama-era policy commonly known as the Dream Act.  It allows children of illegal immigrants to stay in the country if they came to the U.S. before the age of 16, are in school or employed, and do not have a criminal record.

“These young people have had an opportunity to go to school, to have full time jobs, to be able to do the things that every American has an opportunity to do. To have this reversed is to say to them that they are not wanted here, they’re not allowed to be here,” said Joe Henry, Vice President of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.

The group is asking Senator Ernst follow in the footsteps of another Iowa Republican.

“I mean one of the people I think of a lot is the Republican governor Robert Ray, who opened the doors when the people of southeast Asia needed a place to go,” said protester Kathleen McQuillen

McQuillen says she has serious concerns should DCA be phased out.

“They’ve come, they’ve established themselves, they’re living among us as our neighbors, as our friends, as our coworkers, and it’s absolutely terrifying to think that they will be picked up and sent back to this home they don’t know,” she said.

At the time of publication, Senator Ernst has not issued a response to the group.