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Chapel Hill and Carrboro hold free legal clinic for DACA recipients

The Town of Chapel Hill and the Town of Carrboro have partnered with El Centro Hispano, a community building nonprofit that assists the Triangle’s Latinx population, to sponsor a free legal clinic for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who may be eligible to renew their status. 

The clinic, which will be held at the Carrboro Town Hall from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, is designed to assist local DACA recipients whose status expires between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 in the renewal process.

An information session was held on Thursday to identify and fill out the required documents for Saturday’s clinic, provide information on scholarships for those who cannot afford the $495 renewal fee and allow for interested DACA recipients to sign up for Saturday’s clinic. DACA recipients who were unable to attend the information session on Thursday are still invited to attend Saturday’s legal clinic.

Earlier this month, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen passed a resolution to assist town residents who are DACA beneficiaries in response to the program’s elimination. In the resolution, the Board asked Town Manager David Andrews to identify funds to support El Centro Hispano in assisting local DACA recipients. 

The Town of Carrboro’s funding to support El Centro Hispano in providing scholarships to DACA recipients who cannot afford the renewal fee will only apply to Carrboro residents, Carrboro Board of Aldermen member Damon Seils said.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates that up to 2,000 individuals in Orange and Chatham counties were immediately eligible for DACA status as of March 2017, and now may be affected by President Trump’s decision to eliminate the program earlier this month. Across the state of North Carolina, there are over 50,000 DACA recipients.

The legal aid provided in Saturday’s clinic may be necessary for many DACA recipients, as Oct. 5 is the last day to submit DACA renewal applications to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for recipients whose employment authorization documents expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. 

While the Town of Chapel Hill has yet to directly allocate monetary funds to support El Centro Hispano’s clinic on Saturday, Assistant Director of the Office of Housing and Community Sarah Viñas affirmed that the town has pledged to provide staff and space resources to residents affected by DACA’s elimination. 

“We have a commitment to making Chapel Hill a place that's welcoming to everyone, and we see this as an extension of that," said Viñas.


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