NYC Ramps Up DACA Enrollment Program

Natalia Gutierrez, a CUNY student with DACA status (Screen shot from video by Gwynne Hogan for Voices of NY)

Natalia Gutierrez, a CUNY student with DACA status (Screen shot from video by Gwynne Hogan for Voices of NY)

Fewer than half of the 79,000 young immigrants in New York City who are potentially eligible for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) have taken advantage of the program, and on June 4 the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development and the Young Men’s Initiative announced a team effort to get the word out about eligibility and enroll more people.

DACA, introduced by President Obama in 2012, offers temporary protection against deportation, work authorization and a Social Security card to young residents who arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthdays, provided they meet certain requirements. The first DACA recipients will need to renew their DACA status shortly.

The low numbers for enrollment in DACA in New York have been a cause of concern for some time. It’s thought that some youth don’t pursue obtaining DACA status because they believe it is only offered to college students, which is not the case. The relatively steep cost of applying for DACA status – $465 – has also been blamed for the low enrollment numbers in New York.

Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal, noting that the program has already helped tens of thousands of New Yorkers obtain crucial benefits, added that “the city wants to help the thousands and thousands more immigrant youth who stand to benefit from DACA.”

The new public awareness campaign will include advertisements in English, Spanish and Chinese on subways, buses and bus shelters. Additional advertisements will be appearing in Urdu, Bengali, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Russian and Korean-language newspapers. New online tools at nyc.gov/daca and dacanyc.org will also be available to help immigrants determine whether they are eligible for DACA, and to help them obtain free legal and financial assistance for their applications.

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