SPEARHEADED BY THE MAYOR’S OFFICE OF IMMIGRANT AFFAIRS, CAMPAIGN AIMS TO BOOST DACA’S LOW REGISTRATION NUMBERS IN NEW YORK CITY
NEW YORK (TIP): The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development, and the Young Men’s Initiative launched a new public awareness campaign to encourage the city’s undocumented youth to seek eligibility information and enroll in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA). DACA, a federal program introduced by President Obama in 2012, offers temporary protection against deportation, work authorization, and a Social Security card to certain young immigrants who came to the United States before their sixteenth birthdays, provided they meet residency, criminal background, and education or military service requirements.
The first DACA recipients from 2012 will need to begin renewing their two-year DACA status this month. Despite a significant $18 million city investment in funding to legal, literacy, and outreach providers to support potentially eligible immigrants in applying for DACA and upcoming renewals, more than half of the approximately 79,000 potentially eligible immigrants in New York City have not yet applied for DACA. Fewer than 34,000 applications have been submitted in New York State as of March 31, 2014, meaning the city’s application numbers are estimated to be significantly less than 43 percent, as compared to an estimated application rate of 51.8 percent nationwide.
New York City’s lower application rate is due to a range of factors, including the misperception that DACA is only for college-bound young people; in New York City, the eligible population is far more diverse than the cap-and-gown imagery that has dominated the messaging on this program. The campaign, the first of its kind in the nation, includes advertisements appearing in English, Spanish, and Chinese on subways, buses, and bus shelters. Additionally, the advertisements will be appearing in Urdu, Bengali, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Russian and Korean language newspapers.
The city is launching new online tools at nyc.gov/daca and dacanyc.org to help immigrants assess their eligibility for DACA and obtain free legal and financial assistance for their applications. “I am thrilled to be able to help spread the word about a program as important and valuable as DACA,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal. “DACA has already helped tens of thousands of New Yorkers gain crucial benefits, including protection from deportation, work authorization, in-state tuition at CUNY, and access to public health insurance programs.
The city wants to help the thousands and thousands more immigrant youth who stand to benefit from DACA.” “In the first initiative of its kind in the nation, DYCD and its community partners have already assisted nearly 3,200 DACAeligible young immigrants and families, and this public education campaign will help us serve even more,” said Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong. “Through community outreach, literacy and employment services, the unprecedented covering of applicant legal fees, or helping young people obtain their high school equivalency, the city expects to eliminate barriers to achieving DACA status for as many as 11,000 New Yorkers during the twoyear program.”
“When New York City’s Young Men’s Initiative (YMI) decided to fund the DACA campaign, we knew that this was a wise investment that would provide a strategy to engage some of our hardest to reach young people,” said Jahmani Hylton, Director of Young Men’s Initiative. “DACA creates opportunities for many immigrant youth and young adults, where opportunities previously did not exist, by allowing access to the very basic things that we sometimes take for granted like education, work, and even a social security number.”
“I enthusiastically support the Administration’s efforts to encourage some of the 79,000 DACA eligible New Yorkers to take advantage of the potentially lifechanging opportunity that is a successful DACA application,” said chair of the City Council Immigration Committee Carlos Menchaca. “In the midst of an unsustainable and broken national immigration system, the DACA openings in New York City can distinctly provide the local immigrant community with the ability to more fully participate in our political system, in our economy, and in our schools. I hope that eligible individuals will seize this important moment in the struggle for immigrant equality in the city of New York, and on the national level.”
“We applaud the new outreach campaign being launched by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs that will continue to help reach the most vulnerable immigrant populations,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “As the coordinator of the Department of Youth and Community Development’s DACA Outreach program, we have overseen groundbreaking work by 26 DACA outreach providers serving our communities in 25 languages. Over the last six months, these providers have reached more than 2,000 hard-to-reach immigrants. MOIA’s efforts continue the city’s progressive and comprehensive approach to DACA in the face of crippling federal inaction on immigration reform. We look forward to working together to make sure that all New Yorkers who qualify can enroll.”
“The Door is proud to be a part of the Mayor’s efforts to support immigrant youth and to promote their access to higher education and the workforce. Every undocumented young person should meet with an attorney-free of charge-to get the facts,” said Rebecca McBride, staff attorney at The Door – a Center of Alternatives. “Whether they are eligible for DACA or a green card, The Door encourages undocumented youth to come forward, learn about their options, and make a plan for the future.
Knowledge is power.” “The Legal Aid Society proudly supports MOIA’s innovative city-wide DACA education program. In keeping with New York’s traditional leadership role in providing legal and literacy services to immigrants, MOIA’s program would ensure that all eligible DACA beneficiaries realize their dreams of remaining legally in the U.S. and obtaining a path toward permanent lawful status, essential education and professional opportunities,” said Jojo Annobil, Attorney-in-Chief of the Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society.
“Our goal with Pocket DACA is to empower those who may be eligible for Deferred Action to better understand the requirements and find reputable legal help, but also to engage more deeply with potential applicants about their experiences and concerns,” said Matthew Burnett, Director of the Immigration Advocates Network. “By offering an interactive self-screening tool and contact information for local legal services providers, the app increases the chances that eligible young immigrants will be successful in their request. The generation of young immigrants who can benefit from DACA is incredibly tech and social-media savvy.
This app will put them in the driver’s seat when it comes to their future.” “To help its residents take full advantage of the benefits of DACA, cities like New York and innovative partners like Immigration Advocates Network and Pro Bono Net are designing bold new ways of reaching eligible young immigrants across the five boroughs, connecting them to user friendly resources to help them secure DACA status, and reminding New York City’s current DACA recipients about upcoming renewals,” said Suzette Brooks Masters, program director for migration at the JM Kaplan Fund, a foundation which funds DACA implementation and IAN/PBN.
Testimonies from DACA recipients
“DACA has afforded me many more opportunities and opened doors that were previously closed,” said Sandra Sandoval, DACA recipient and Field Support Coordinator, Immigration Advocates Network. “With DACA, I have been able to use my college degree and get a job, while continuing to contribute to my community through my work. Even more importantly, DACA has given me the courage to follow my dreams and to continue to fight for more comprehensive relief for my community.” “DACA changed my life.
It allowed me to embrace my identity as an undocumented immigrant, and empowered me to become publicly active about an issue that many struggle with privately. Thanks to DACA, I was able to apply, and get accepted into, nursing school,” said Hina Naveed, DACA recipient and DACA Coordinator at El Centro del Inmigrante. “My life, which previously had felt as if it was on hold, is now back on track, and I feel as though I can realistically attain all that I had previously aspired to.
The DACA campaign is a wonderful initiative, there are still many individuals who are eligible but have not yet applied, either because they are afraid or unaware. For those who are afraid, I would like to refer to my life as testimony that DACA is a life-changer. There are many free legal services available, I urge you to take advantage of them and not miss out.”
“For over 24 years, I lived in New York City, undocumented. In September of 2012, I meet Atlas: DIY’s immigration attorney, Lauren Burke. She helped me apply for DACA, and I was approved on November 20, 2013. Less than three weeks later, I had my work authorization card, my social security number, and my New York State driver’s permit. Two weeks later, I started The Receptionist Training Program at Atlas: DIY, and less than four months later, I was offered a job as their Director of Operations,” said Maria Caba, DACA recipient. “Now, part of my responsibility at Atlas is to help young people find out about DACA and learn how to apply. DACA has opened doors that otherwise would be closed to people like me.
DACA is not permanent, but it offers you a sense of safety, a sense of belonging, and a sense of empowerment. I am so excited for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ DACA transit ad campaign, because now more people will know about DACA, and they will be able to see that there is help available for them. They just need to speak up and ask for it.” “Getting DACA has really changed my life. It has allowed me to get a job where I fight to empower members of my community, while going to college and pursuing my dreams. The more people who are eligible and get DACA, the stronger our communities become.
I think it’s incredibly important that everyone knows about this opportunity, and if you think you might be eligible, go to a place like Make the Road New York to get free legal advice and apply now!” said Antonio Alarcon, DACA recipient and member of Make the Road New York.