By Laura Vazquez, Senior Immigration Legislative Analyst, NCLR
At the recent 2015 NCLR National Latino Advocacy Days, groups representing communities in 24 states and the District of Columbia engaged in sessions on public policy, advocacy, and strategy to prepare for the implementation of administrative relief through Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
One of the exciting outcomes of Advocacy Days was the opportunity to connect with DACA recipients who made the trip to Washington, DC, ready to share their stories and advocate for administrative relief and immigration reform. We heard how DACA has allowed these individuals to continue pursuing an education and volunteering or working with NCLR Affiliates. DACA enabled them to pursue their aspirations, and they want to make sure that others can benefit too.
Last Wednesday’s session began with remarks from Samantha, a youth coordinator for NCLR Affiliate TODEC Legal Center in Perris, California. Samantha received DACA in 2012. She has been volunteering with TODEC for more than five years and continues to advocate for her community through TODEC. Another Affiliate, the Latin American Community Center in Delaware, who has participated in Advocacy Days for many years, included in its delegation Maria, a DACA recipient. Maria shared her story with legislators about how DACA enabled her to continue her contributions in Delaware, where she works with survivors of domestic violence.
Later in the day we heard from Andrea, a high school student in Chicago who is part of the NCLR Escalera Program run by Affiliate Instituto del Progreso Latino. When Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, joined us, Andrea asked him what he envisions for DACA recipients like her in the future. Mayorkas responded that in addition to ensuring that the administration is doing everything it can to aggressively push for the expansion of DACA and implementation of DAPA, he expects that each year approximately 90,000 people will become eligible to apply for DACA and receive a reprieve from deportation and a work permit.
Samantha, Maria, and Andrea are just a few examples how DACA recipients are woven into the fabric of the NCLR familia by contributing to their communities through NCLR Affiliates.