City Hall Helps DACA Recipients with Their Studies

Ángeles Méndez, 18, protesting in front of the Trump Tower. Méndez said DACA has helped her with her studies. "I I tell those who can apply for DACA to do it, to not be afraid and, if they don’t meet the educational requirements, to make use the City’s programs, because that way they will have many opportunities in their lives," said Méndez. (photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Ángeles Méndez, 18, protesting in front of the Trump Tower. Méndez said DACA has helped her with her studies. “I I tell those who can apply for DACA to do it, to not be afraid and, if they don’t meet the educational requirements, to make use the city’s programs, because that way they will have many opportunities in their lives,” said Méndez. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Organizers and immigrant rights activists estimate that nearly 50 percent of New York’s youths who could benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have not done so. Aware that one of the possible reasons may be that many people do not meet the immigration relief’s educational requirements, the Bill de Blasio Administration has launched a program to lend them a hand.

On August 25, the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs and the City University of New York announced the beginning of the DACA Education Initiative, which will offer classes at 9 centers throughout the city to help immigrants fulfill the educational requirement of the original DACA.

Although the Supreme Court on June 23 blocked the implementation of further immigration relief through an extended DACA and DAPA  – which would help nearly 5 million undocumented people – the original DACA that took effect in 2012 is still valid.

“New York City is home to nearly half a million undocumented immigrants. They are our neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family. We launched a major effort to help these New Yorkers come out of the shadows with ActionNYC, and now we’re going a step further,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at the initiative’s launching.

Although it is hard to determine exact figures, pro-immigrant organizations estimate that there are nearly 250,000 youths in New York alone who could benefit from the original DACA, while some activists say that the number could be even higher.

One of them is Ángeles Méndez, a DACA beneficiary who arrived in New York from Mexico when she was just two. The 18-year-old applauded the City’s plan and said that it is now in the hands of young people to make the most of it, adding that it was very useful to her to join an education program.

“DACA has helped me a lot with my studies. Ever since I applied, I had the motivation to follow my dreams because it opened a door for me to be who I want to be,” said Méndez, a Social Science major.

“That’s why I tell those who can apply for DACA to do it, to not be afraid and, if they don’t meet the educational requirements, to make use the city’s programs, because that way they will have many opportunities in their lives,” added the DACA recipient during a protest against Donald Trump’s message of hatred and racism held in Manhattan on Thursday.

With the new program – which expands the city’s ActionNYC plan, offering free and confidential immigration legal assistance – the de Blasio Administration hopes to help thousands of New Yorkers who may be eligible but do not have a high school diploma and are not enrolled in an educational program.

Javier H. Valdés, co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, thanked the city for this new plan, which opens more doors for potential original DACA beneficiaries.

“There are thousands of immigrant New Yorkers who can still apply for the DACA relief to ensure that they will be able to stay with their families. It is indispensable for youths who still don’t meet the educational requirements to get connected to the classes they need. Therefore, we are happy to participate in this new, innovative initiative,” he added.

Nisha Agarwal, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner, said: Today, the de Blasio Administration is taking an important step to help immigrants enroll in high-quality, community-based education classes that will also help them qualify for the life-changing benefits of DACA.”

The 9 community centers offering these educational services are: BronxWorks, the Fifth Avenue Committee, the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, LaGuardia Community College, Make the Road New York, the NYC College of Technology, the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, the NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers and Queens Library.

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