By Oregon Catholic Charities 
Catholic Charities Celebrates First DACA Approval
The largest nonprofit immigration legal service for undocumented youth in Oregon is celebrating its first approved application under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services client, Noe, who’s 20, has been granted DACA status, which means two years of freedom from the fear of deportation, plus the ability to further his education.
Noe says, “Being able to get DACA not only opens up opportunities but it also means I can pursue my dream of getting a nursing degree and reaching out to help those with fewer chances in life.”
Noe came to the United States from Mexico when he was eight years old. Growing up without papers meant growing up with great uncertainty over how he would pursue an education and how he would be able to find work.
In June, the Obama Administration announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a measure designed for undocumented immigrants who entered the US as children. Applicants must fit certain guidelines to apply, but if DACA status is granted, it means deportation action will not be pursued for two years. Successful applicants can also get a social security number and work.
Noe is currently a second year student at a community college. Now that he has his DACA status, he will be applying to nursing courses. This would have been impossible without Deferred Action. Noe is delighted by his good fortune and says he hopes to see more progress on immigration from Congress,
“I hope that somehow both parties – Democrats and Republicans – can come together and compromise to find a long term solution on this issue.”
Noe’s case is just one of hundreds supported by Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services (CCILS) since the government began accepting applications for DACA in August. CCILS has worked with around 300 clients on their cases and has given free presentations about DACA to around 2000 people in Oregon.
Sarah McClain, CCILS Program Manager, says, “We support the DACA program because it allows undocumented, yet talented and energetic, youth to openly participate in our communities. These individuals came to the United States as young children and through no fault of their own. For many, the US is the only country they have ever known. Their contributions make us stronger and more competitive and it has been a true pleasure to assist young people such as Noe with their DACA applications.”
John Marandas, Oregon Chapter President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, (AILA), agrees, “Nonprofit legal services providers, such as CCILS, have worked tirelessly over the past several months to help young immigrants prepare and file their DACA applications. DACA was intended to be a stop-gap measure and our country desperately needs a real, permanent solution.”
CCILS continues to work with young immigrants on their Deferred Action cases and will be holding its next workshop for applicants on January 13. Applicants must pre-register. More information can be obtained at www.catholiccharitiesoregon.org.