DACA renewal deadline nears, Chicago area help available

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Undocumented immigrants working to renew their applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program before next week's deadline received some help on Friday.

DACA renewals must be received and processed by October 5th, not just postmarked.

Many organizations are urging recipients to come for free help over the weekend.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program offers protection from deportation for undocumented children who came to the United States with their parents.

A race against the clock. With days to go before the DACA deadline, young undocumented immigrants renewing their work permits fill up the Resurrection Project's new offices in Pilsen.

Jorge Hilarao is a masonry apprentice for a local union.

"I was brought by my parents when I was one years old, so I know nothing about my home country of Mexico," said Jorge Hilarao, a DACA recipient.

Jorge Gonzales arrived in the United States when he was 15. Now 32, his career is in full swing.

"I'm already working my way up with my current job as I'm trying to get my own store and maybe get my own business which will create jobs," said Jorge Gonzalez, a DACA recipient.

Gonzalez and Hilarao are among the thousands of "Dreamers" whose DACA expires between September 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018. While the Trump administration is ending the program, it is allowing two-year renewals for permits that expire during that time frame.

"We are also seeing a lot of applicants, who DACA expired before Sept 5th. They were waiting to see what happened on the September 5th deadline, now they are blocked out from applying," said Julie Reiter Pellerite with the Resurrection Project.

The Resurrection Project and the Erie House have offered free legal help for applicants. Both community organizations have processed over one hundred applications each, but, with an October 5th deadline, they are urging applicants to mail their paperwork soon.

"If we want to be 100 percent certain USCIS will, in fact, process that renewal, considering there's going to be even more of an influx than usual, we're advising all of our participants that really Monday should be the deadline for that DACA renewal," said Erie House Executive Director Kirstin Chernawsky.

When renewing a DACA application, recipients must have a copies of their last DACA application and work permit plus a money order for $495 made out to the Department of Homeland Security.

If you can't afford the fee, various organizations are offering grants and scholarships.
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