With the positive news that the Supreme Court will hear the case that has been blocking administrative relief this spring, now is the time to prepare for the possibility of the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). To do that, NCLR and its Affiliates, along with partners from across the country, gathered in Crystal City, Virginia, last week for the Ready America conference. Community organizers, advocates, and legal experts came together to plan and strategize for the implementation of administrative relief.
Our staff and Affiliates participated in workshops on community outreach and communications strategies, effective strategies, and service delivery models. Staff from more than 20 NCLR Affiliates were there to share their ideas for implementation and to learn from others.
The conference kicked off with a session focused on the process for applying for recognition from the Board of Immigration Appeals in order to provide immigration legal services. The workshop led by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) will allow NCLR Affiliates and other community-based organizations to add much-needed capacity to provide high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services. According to research we contributed to, the implementation of expanded DACA and DAPA will require three times more full-time staff providing immigration legal assistance than are currently in the field.
Irma Morin and Raquel Reyes of NCLR Affiliate Community Council of Idaho were among the participants in the workshop preparing applications to become immigration legal service providers. Photo: Laura Vazquez.
Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Leon Rodriguez joined the conference participants and shared his goal that if the injunction is lifted when the Supreme Court issues its ruling, USCIS will be ready to go with expanded DACA. The audience was reminded that the agency was on the cusp of accepting those applications when Judge Hanen put a halt to people being able to come forward and apply.
In addition to discussing the models and practices that organizations can use to prepare and the lessons learned from DACA, participants discussed strategies to encourage families to come forward and apply for relief.