The information session aimed to prepare families for the possible implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of American and Lawful Permanent Residents, known as DAPA, and expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA.
The DAPA program, created by President Barack Obama in 2014, provides temporary relief from deportation and work permits to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or lawful residents. Similarly, DACA allows people who meet certain qualifications, such as entering the U.S. before their 16th birthday, to acquire a valid U.S. work permit.
While students in the language program attended their three-hour Spanish class, about 40 parents gathered in another classroom at St. Thomas More Catholic School to discuss the requirements to qualify for DAPA.
Stefania Arteaga, a volunteer from the Latin American Coalition, urged the parents to have proof of identity and residency ready by June to apply for DAPA, with the expectation that the Supreme Court will support Obama’s executive actions.
Undocumented immigrant parents must have proven continuous residency in the U.S. since before Jan. 1, 2010, and must pass a background check.
“Start building relationships with lawyers now,” Arteaga said, repeating that an immigration lawyer was the best source to confirm eligibility for DAPA.
She also urged parents not to let U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials into their homes unless they present a search warrant with the correct name.
“I have more information to defend myself now,” Chapel Hill resident Alberto Calderon said. “ICE needs to have a search warrant to enter a home. I didn’t know that before.”
Calderon first heard of DAPA at the meeting, a program he could qualify for since his two youngest children were born in the U.S.
Jenice Ramirez, executive director of the language program, said this meeting was necessary because there are few immigration resources in the community for undocumented families.
“Many are afraid to ask questions,” Ramirez said. “We wanted to have a space for the community to come forward to ask questions. What happens here, stays here.”
Last year, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans blocked the implementation of DAPA and expansion of DACA.
The Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of Obama’s immigration executive actions this June. If the Supreme Court reverses the lower court’s decision, more than 3.9 million undocumented immigrants could be granted relief from deportation and work legally in the U.S.
Next month, the language program will host a discussion with an immigration lawyer, which will be open to the public.