Free DACA clinics to be offered in Hartford

In this Sept. 1, 2017 file photo, a woman joins a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, outside the Edward Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit Monday, Sept. 11, against the Trump administration over its decision to end a program that protects young immigrants from deportation who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or by parents who overstayed visas. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

A free clinic will be held Saturday in Hartford to help immigrant youth and families renew work permits and protections from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), according to a CT Students for a Dream (C4D) press release.

The organization will offer 70 scholarships to DACA applicants to cover the $495 renewal fee, according to the press release.

The clinic will take place from noon to 3 p.m. at the Center for Latino Progress at 95 Park St. #2 in Hartford on Saturday.  Attorneys will be available to review applications as well, C4D said.

Only individuals whose DACA status expires on or before March 5, 2018, can apply for renewal. No new DACA applications will be processed after that date, and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services must receive renewal applications by Oct. 5, according to C4D. The scholarships were funded by donations made to the CT DACA Renewal Fund created by C4D and United We Dream’s DACA Renewal Fund.

“The individuals we've been able to help are students trying to pay their own way through college, parents of young children who are trying to provide for their families, workers who are the primary earners in their families,” Lucas Codognolla, C4D executive director, said. 

Joseline Tlacomulco, a fifth-semester political science and human rights major and C4D member, said she is working to inform UConn DACA students of the clinics and resources available to them. 

Tlacomulco, an undocumented student protected with DACA, said many undocumented individuals may not want to reveal they are undocumented, but should reach out to organizations such as C4D for resources and assistance.

“It’s important to seek help. How could you get help if you don’t speak up?,” Tlacomulco said.

She said she spoke out on her status because she knew she would get help.

“If I never opened up about being undocumented, I wouldn’t have gotten this far, ” Tlacomulco said.

According to Stephanie Marquez, a member of  C4D’s board of directors, these free clinics are meant to help individuals properly renew their DACA applications before the Oct. 5 deadline. A clinic was also held last week in Windham.

The effort comes after the Trump administration issued an executive order earlier this month to end the DACA program. According to the press release, 800,000 youths have utilized DACA over the past five years since it was issued. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services estimate that 154,000 applicants are eligible for renewal prior to Oct. 5.

“But the fact is that beginning March 6, 14,000 people a day across the country are going to lose their work permits and their jobs.  So not only will we help applicants apply, but are also committed to keep fighting,” Camila Bortolleto, C4D campaign manager, said.

Tlacomulco said the announcement about DACA’s end took a mental toll on her.

“It definitely feels like a sense of hopelessness and that we can’t do anything,” she said. “It’s not a good feeling.”

Tlacomulco said she will work with the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center to host events geared towards DACA students to help them cope with the reversal of DACA.

“I’m trying to remind myself that there is hope but be realistic of what’s going on,” she said.


Sarah Al-Arshani is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at sarah.al-arshani@uconn.edu.