Mississippi Center for Justice continues with DACA clinic for renewal applicants
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s been more than a week since a federal judge made the decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to new applicants.
The news meant that 59% of Mississippi’s DACA-eligible immigrants are currently unable to apply for the program and they now wait on an appeal from the Department of Justice to the federal case.
“The new DACA ruling sets people back,” said immigration attorney Max Meyers. “(It) really sets back all the progress the Biden admiration was able to make to clean up the mess that had happened over the last four years.”
Under President Donald Trump, DACA was in limbo after he sought to end the program entirely. However, last December, the program was fully restored after the Supreme Court ruled the means the President used to remove DACA was illegal.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling, Meyers and the Mississippi Center for Justice launched a free virtual DACA clinic to help inform and register the state’s eligible immigrants.
Over the past five months, Meyers said the clinic has screened more than 120 people and admitted 40 of them. However, they were only able to submit eight applications until the recent decision to end all new applications.
Meyers now looks back at his clients who now live without a chance of applying for a driver’s license, ID or even to colleges.
“It really threw their lives into disarray. Maybe one week later, two weeks later, they could have had their application submitted instead of having the rug pulled out from them,” he said.
While the center waits for the appeal or for Congress to pass legislation to legalize a pathway to lawful status and citizenship, the DACA clinic will continue to help people with renewal applications and coach new applicants on the complexities of the program in case it is restored.
“It really is a high standard of evidence that people need to provide in order to qualify to apply for the program,” Meyers said. “All of that takes weeks, months of collection time.”
Meyers joins other immigration advocates in hoping for better polices set by lawmakers so Dreamers can live in the U.S. with peace of mind.
“I know, as well as my clients know, that they have just as every much right to be here, now as well as in the future,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s just a matter of time of figuring out how as a nation we can actually create the proper laws that reflect what is overwhelmingly a bipartisan issue.”
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