GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was up in the air for the past four years under the Trump Administration.
On day one in office, President Joe Biden announced plans to continue the DACA Program and start working towards a pathway to citizenship for immigrants. It’s led a lot of people, who were scared to apply in fear that the information would be used against them, to come forward.
“Since President Biden has entered office, we’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of individuals who have come to our site seeking our services,” said Fernando Urbina, Immigrationhelp.org, director of outreach.
President Biden’s first day in office included reinstalling the DACA program for nearly 800,000 “dreamers,” immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents as children.
But that means recipients will have to renew their documents. That’s where immigrationhelp.org comes in.
“Now we help individuals prepare their forms in the areas of naturalization, family green card and also DACA renewals and applications,” Urbina said.
The organization pairs up with students and lawyers who volunteer their time to immigrants across the country.
Urbin is a Harvard student who said his organization has recently seen more people reaching out for help to review documents as first-time DACA applicants.
“There have been several individuals from North Carolina who have sought support from our organization and so, we believe that there are definitely many more within the state who need our free help,” he said. “So what we’re trying to do right now is reach those individuals and let them know that we are here for them.”
Like immigrationhelp.org, Siembra NC aims to help immigrants too.
“Siembra NC started in 2017, in a direct response to the Trump Administration,” said Laura Garduno, Siembra NC organizer.
Laura Garduno is one of the founders of Siembra NC, whose goal is to help immigrants in North Carolina with any assistance they may need, including DACA aide, working with lawyers pro bono.
Garduno is also a DACA recipient.
“I usually say that it’s my father’s dreams and hopes for us. My father worked in the tobacco fields in North Carolina and then he worked in the poultry processing plant and then worked in construction,” Garduno said.
She said the renewal of the program is a positive step, but she remains cautious.
“A relief the Trump Administration lost its bid for a second term, and cautious about what words mean without action under the new Biden Administration,” Garduno said.
She’s hoping for immigration reform so people like her and her father will have a permanent pathway to citizenship.
“There’s not a place I can line up to. There’s not a line for me to get in. That’s part one,” she said. “Part two, there are hundreds of thousands of people who have been in line for decades, and that system doesn’t work for the people in line and it doesn’t work for this country.”
President Biden’s plan did have mention of a pathway to citizenship, but it hasn’t been made clear how it will be done.
For Urbina, he hopes he believes the diversity in Biden’s cabinet can make the difference in immigration reform.
“The appointment of Alejandro Mayorkas as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is a positive signal giving that he was a key architect of DACA and is an immigrant himself,” Urbina said.