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DACA applicants told to remain cautious, have a plan

By Sajedah Al-Khzaleh
News Editor

Undocumented immigrants should remain cautious of applying or renewing their applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to Caroline Shoenberger, a supervisory attorney and HWC professor.

Though President Trump has not announced any new policy changes, Shoenberger advises those interested in applying or renewing for DACA to reconsider Trump’s original plan.

“Make sure you have no prior arrests or orders of deportation,” she said.

Applying or renewing DACA is a “personal decision,” according to Shoenberger. Essentially, it reveals all personal information to the government.

As an immigration program director at the Chicago Legal Clinic, Shoenberger gives free legal consultations and referrals. Her legal clinic requires applicants to submit a document proving they have not been convicted of a felony or have had significant misdemeanors, according to a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services request form Shoenberger uses.

She and her legal clinic have been renewing some DACA applications, but with the warning that this is an uncertain time and the policy may still be changed or completely removed.

“We are renewing with the worry that this can shut down at any time,” she said. “Be prepared, you might lose your money.” A new DACA application on the other hand is “dangerous.”

The current price for employment authorization I-765 for new applications and renewals is $495, according to the USCIS.

Shoenberger reemphasized the importance of having the emergency plan she discussed when she last spoke with The Herald. It includes documents proving identity, family relationships, and property rights; a list of family doctors, medicines, names of doctors and their phone numbers; the names and addresses of any extended family members the children or spouse could contact in an emergency; a list of schools the children attend and their school schedules; the name, address and telephone number of the lawyer; and a list of monthly expenses.

Emergency plan documents and tips on how one could protect themselves from immigration raids is available at the Chicago Legal Clinic, located at 1914 S Ashland Ave, in Pilsen. Harold Washington College students can visit Harold’s branch of the legal clinic in Room 1027.

Since Trump denounced DACA, more students have sought HWC’s Wellness Center for counseling, according to Eric Crabtree-Nelson, manager of the Wellness Center.

“People are trickling in one by one,” he said. “There is a lot of uncertainty, which leads to anxiety.”

Despite the services provided by the Wellness Center, students seem fearful of receiving help, according to Nelson.

“At least a portion of the lower enrollment [at the Wellness Center] probably has something to do with people putting their information down,” he said. “It poisons the institutions [and] it scares people from coming in.”

Nelson and his staff, however, want to assure students going through these fears that the Wellness Center is a safe and private space.

Located in Room 1041, the Wellness Center is “not situated near the other offices,” ensuring privacy, according to Nelson. 

“Our systems don’t mesh with the rest of the school’s system [and] our system isn’t accessible to anyone besides Wellness personnel,” he said.

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