Contra Costa school district, teachers’ union offer to pay DACA renewal fee – but some say offer was poorly publicized

Activists show support for DACA recipients in a recent protest in San Francisco (Photo credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen/Wikicommons)

Activists show support for DACA recipients in a recent protest in San Francisco (Photo credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen/Wikicommons)

Last month, the Trump administration announced it would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Today is the last day for recipients to file a renewal application, which would extend their status for two years. Contra Costa County is offering to pay the renewal fee of $495 — but some say this offer was poorly publicized.

The DACA program aids non-citizens brought to the United States as children in obtaining work permits and other services. About 788,000 individuals have had their DACA status applications approved since the start of the program in 2012, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Demetrio Gonzalez, president of United Teachers of Richmond (UTR), says there wasn’t too much interest in the fee offer when it was first announced. He doesn’t know the exact reason why, but he imagines it’s a lack of awareness.

He also said some people might not want to renew their DACA status because they’re afraid of the repercussions under the Trump administration.

Gonzalez admitted that neither UTR nor the district have publicized the offer. Instead, he’s been reaching out individually to DACA recipients. Due to the private nature of the issue, he could not confirm nor deny whether anyone had taken them up on the offer.

Marcus Walton, communications director for the school district, was unaware that the fee offer existed. He said the district refers students under DACA to programs that would be able to help them.

Diana Diaz, the youth organizing coordinator at the RYSE Youth Center and herself a DACA recipient, says the lack of outreach by the county and the district is a problem. For instance, she had already paid for her DACA renewal before she even learned of the fee offer. She also uses undocumented resources in Santa Cruz, because the local services aren’t helpful.

“There’s a lack of transparency in the district,” she said.

She attended a college preparation fair in Richmond where she met undocumented students. They told her they might not even apply to college, due to the uncertainty over their DACA status. Diaz claimed this is partly fueled by the lack of training and resources in the district.

Nationally, only a quarter of DACA recipients have applied for renewal by today’s deadline, according to CNN. For those who don’t renew, their status will expire by March 5 of next year.

2 Comments

  1. Don Gosney

    This was a gracious offer but this is the first I’m hearing of if and the deadline has already passed.

    There are numerous online news services here in Richmond where this could have been publicized (Richmond Confidential, Radio Free Richmond, The Standard) as well as local newspapers plus public forum at the numerous city council meetings.

  2. Commenter I

    Curious, poorly-written article. Here, the union is doing a good thing and the reporter portrays it as doing a bad thing. Why?

    Perhaps RC should have asked how they could have helped to promote the program rather than knock them down.

    Also, it is not Contra Costa County, but West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD).

    I think RC can do better. Please try.

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