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Organizations Need to Get Ready for DAPA and DACA

The Supreme Court will be deciding in the next month whether or not President Obama's two major immigration executive action programs are allowed to go forward. Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+) programs will benefit over half-a-million New York immigrants. Although these programs may only be months, or even weeks, away from starting, many community organizations are not preparing for implementation. 

That may be understandable given the history of DAPA/DACA+ . After all, a lot of local organizations responded to the president's November 2014 executive action announcements by gearing up services only to have a Federal judge in Texas issue an order temporarily blocking the program from going forward only two days before DACA+ was set to begin. No one wants to repeat that experience. However, organizations should at least be dusting off their DACA+ and DAPA plans to make sure that they can begin helping potential executive action applicants as soon as the Supreme Court makes its decision. 

If the Court makes a decision favorable to immigrants, community groups will be flooded with calls for information on eligibility for the two programs. Every organization should have a game plan for what it will do that critical first week. If a community group is not going to offer informational meetings or legal counselling, it needs to make sure it has a list of agencies nearby that are offing those. If a group is going to provide navigation or full legal services to potential DACA+ and DACA applicants, front line staff like receptionists and paralegals need refresher training on how to handle incoming calls. These navigator and legal services groups should also review the outlines for community meetings for the two programs and select and train presenters. This way, presentations can begin almost immediately after the Court issues its decision.

The staff at our community groups need to refresh themselves on the DACA+ and DAPA programs themselves as part of the preparation. The Administrative Relief Resource Center has a lot of helpful aids for staff training on this. This is also a good time for staff to discuss the roles they will play in the event we get a favorable decision. 

Most of the steps I have recommended can be carried out at little to no expense. Taking them now before the onslaught of calls that will come when the Supreme Court makes its decision will allow our groups to serve as many undocumented immigrants as possible.

Pat Young is an immigration lawyer at CARECEN and an immigration professor at Hofstra University School of Law.



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