In collaboration with Immigrant Legal Defense, OneJustice and the Immigration Institute of the Bay Area, DLA Piper lawyers recently worked with 20 Californians seeking to renew their immigration status before the Supreme Court ruled on the US Administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Established by executive order in 2012, the DACA program provides deferred action from deportation and work permits to immigrants who were brought to the US as children, commonly known as Dreamers. With the future of DACA uncertain, “DACAmented” immigrants rushed to renew their status before the court’s decision, which was anticipated to, but did not, uphold the Administration’s rescission of the program.
Our clients have been extremely grateful for DLA Piper’s assistance. “Thank you all so much for taking time out of your day to help dreamers like me. I always get nervous when it’s time to renew my permit. To be given a permanent opportunity to stay and work in this country is a blessing. I’m beyond thankful there are still great people like you all helping others. If it wasn’t for you, my application would have probably exceeded the time frame to send it out,” said one client.
Another client said, “thank you … for your help. I was not expecting such great kindness from your team and was quite shocked. Thus, I wanted to express my gratitude and give thanks for blessing me with this opportunity.”
The experience was impactful for DLA Piper volunteers as well as the Dreamers they worked with. Lynn Cadwalader (San Francisco), who participated in a clinic organized by Immigrant Legal Defense, reflected on her experience working with student and recent college graduate volunteers.
“We teamed up to work on this together, as we are all passionate about the DACA program and my teammates have friends who have benefited from DACA,” said Lynn. “Time was of the essence in filing the renewal applications, as the Supreme Court was expected to issue a ruling at any time in June as to whether the Administration acted unlawfully when it announced in 2017 that it would end DACA. Our goal was to file as many DACA renewal applications as possible prior to the ruling. We are incredibly lucky to have worked with such great clients and support something good happening during these challenging times!”
Eric Chow, who partnered with Ute Krudewagen (both Silicon Valley) to assist several clients, said, “Pro bono immigration work has a special place in my heart having seen the parents of a close friend, after living in California for more than 20 years, return to Mexico last year, and then witnessing the fear and pain that undocumented immigrant families endure. I took on a few DACA renewal cases with my pro bono buddy, Ute. I have been nothing but impressed by our clients – despite coming from humble backgrounds, they worked hard to get a better life in our country. One of them has just been accepted to graduate school. Taking away their DACA statuses would be catastrophic to them. They each came to the country at a young age; the US is the only country that they know and this is their home. I knew I had to do something to help them. They were all super grateful for what we have done for them – although to me, all it took was a few hours of time I would have otherwise spent watching Netflix. It was such a rewarding experience and I would encourage others to get involved.”
In addition to Lynn, Eric, and Ute, Yana Zubareva, Jason Lee (both Silicon Valley), Suzanne Karbarz Rovner (Chicago), Katherine Thoreson, April Isaacson (both San Francisco), David Farkas, Emily Fox, Sara Hernandez (all Los Angeles) and Lindsey Haythorn (Seattle) assisted clients. Brandon Pechloff (Chicago) provided administrative assistance so that teams could seamlessly support clients in a virtual environment.
With the Supreme Court decision behind us, but the future of DACA uncertain, these volunteers, and others, continue to assist clients renew their DACA status while the program still exists.