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Legal Help for Wisconsin’s Dreamers

A UW-Madison legal expert says those seeking to renew their DACA permits should also seek other forms of immigration relief. (
A UW-Madison legal expert says those seeking to renew their DACA permits should also seek other forms of immigration relief. (
September 25, 2017

MADISON, Wis. – About 7,600 young immigrants living in Wisconsin are DACA participants, who were children when they arrived in the U.S.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals permits that allow many of these so-called Dreamers to remain here are set to expire soon.

There's an Oct. 5 deadline to renew the permits, which protect young, undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The renewal process can be confusing, but free legal help is available.

Benjamin Harville directs the University of Wisconsin Madison Law School's Immigrant Justice Clinic, which is offering no-cost assistance.

"We have two attorneys here and 10 law students,” he states. “All of us are really, you know, making a lot of our time available to do as many of these renewals as we can.
“So, anyone that calls us, we will do our best to help them – and if we can't, we will try and find somebody who can."

Harville says most people can register for help with DACA renewals by calling the Immigrant Justice Clinic at 608-890-3753. Most estimates place the national number of DACA participants at around 800,000.

In addition to the renewal paperwork, the DACA permit has other built-in challenges. Harville says there's a $495 fee to renew the permit, and the clinic may be able to help those short on cash.

"They should still get in touch with us or with a legal service provider, because there are scholarships,” he points out. “There are organizations out there that are offering to help with the renewal fees.

“So please, if that's holding anybody back from renewing their DACA, please get in touch with us anyway and we can see about the possibility of help for those fees."

Harville says there is another reason for DACA permit holders to contact the Clinic.

"An important aspect of these DACA renewals is that those with DACA should really also start investigating other forms of immigration relief that they may qualify for,” he stresses. “So, as part of the renewal process, we are also screening those who come into our clinic to see if they qualify for any other form of protection from deportation."

Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would begin phasing out the DACA program.


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI