Thursday marks deadline for Dreamers to renew status
Thursday marked the deadline for DACA recipients, commonly known as Dreamers, to renew their status that grants them federal protections.
Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office estimates between 250 to 350 Rhode Island Dreamers were eligible to renew their status.
At least 75 people have completed their paperwork, but the governor's office said that number could change as the paperwork is processed. It's a small fraction of people, considering the Rhode Island Foundation offered to pay the $495 renewal fee for Dreamers.
In September, President Donald Trump's administration announced the program was ending, but allowed those whose permits were ending by March 5, 2018 to renew their status for two years.
Carl Kruger is the staff attorney at Dorcas International Institute, a non-profit organization that provides immigration services. He said there are Dreamers who didn’t realize their work authorizations were going to expire soon.
“It was a very sudden announcement. (It) caught people by surprise and the window to get these applications in was relatively short,” Kruger said.
The staff at Dorcas has helped about 75 Dreamers in Rhode Island renew their status. Kruger told NBC 10 News there's a concern about what happens to the Dreamers in two years when their permits expire.
“Things like the job, things like the driver’s license, all of these things that have been made available to this group of folks because of the DACA protection,” Kruger said.
Rodrigo Pimentel of East Providence is one of the 1,200 Dreamers in Rhode Island.
“Dreamers are Americans in every way -- except on paper,” Pimentel said. “They have families to care for. They have mortgages to pay.”
Pimentel’s permit expires in 2019, but he said what he's most worried about isn't his status. He’s more concerned about getting Congress to act.
“What I've been doing is I've been hosting phone banks, trying to push Congress to act because there's a very small window of opportunity in December when the spending bills come up to actually bring this up to the floor for a vote,” Pimentel said.