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DACA Recipients: We Stand By You

 July 31, 2020

In the light of the newly announced decision from the Department of Homeland Security to radically reduce benefits for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, we continue to affirm the humanity and dignity of all our community members, DACA recipients and not, who have a right to safety from deportation and detention and to access opportunities in education and employment that allow them to thrive in our society. Breakthrough’s commitment to our students and families is to support all current DACA recipients to prevent a lapse in status and provide annual financial support for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) renewal fees, as well as access to free immigration legal aid through our relationship with Catholic Charities Central Texas to support renewal applications. Using that same service, we encourage members of our community not eligible for DACA to pursue an immigration screening to discern other possible forms of immigration relief. 

If you have additional immigration-related questions or need guidance related to the recent court decision, please consult with legal counsel directly. Breakthrough remains committed to supporting all of our students and communities by advocating alongside them for the protection of DACA, demanding Congressional enactment of humane and comprehensive federal immigration policy with a pathway to citizenship, and collaborating with undocumented students and families to navigate future challenges and tirelessly pursue their personal and professional dreams.

July 10, 2020

Last month, the Supreme Court held that termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by the presidential administration was unlawful, temporarily allowing for the continuation of DACA. Breakthrough Central Texas emphatically supports and applauds this decision, particularly for its positive impact on DACA recipients, our communities, and our nation. The decision is proof of the courage and leadership that generations of undocumented youth and their advocates have shown in initiating and defending immigrant communities. We continue to affirm the humanity and dignity of all our community members, DACA recipients and not, who have a right not only to safety from deportation and detention, but to access opportunities in education and beyond that allow them to thrive in our society. While this decision is a much needed reprieve, especially for the 100,000+ DACA recipients in Texas, it is a temporary one.

Breakthrough remains committed to supporting all of our students and communities by advocating alongside them for the protection of DACA, demanding Congressional enactment of humane and comprehensive federal immigration policy with a pathway to citizenship, and collaborating with undocumented students and families to navigate future challenges and tirelessly pursue their personal and professional dreams. 

At Breakthrough, we are well aware of the incredible value that undocumented students, families, and partners contribute to our community, our mission, and the country. Their hard-work, passion, intelligence, wisdom, drive, and commitment to serving others as teachers, leaders, advocates, mentors, peers and volunteers is revealed daily through their participation in Breakthrough and beyond. As an organization dedicated to eliminating disparities in postsecondary access and success, it could not be more obvious to us how we all benefit from the investment in and broadening of educational opportunities for undocumented students. 

While the DACA decision came as positive news amidst a contentious moment in our country’s history, much more is needed to improve the college access and success of undocumented students. Undocumented students’ and families’ experiences include real and ongoing challenges when pursuing their educational goals: exclusion from federal financial aid (and economic stimulus); college environments and classrooms where they are made to feel unseen or unwelcome; absence of clear communication regarding the policies surrounding admissions, financial aid, and housing; and significant socio-emotional stressors that impact their mental health often without the guidance of culturally proficient mental health professionals  (for a comprehensive review of research on the barriers that undocumented college students must navigate in higher education refer to this recent ASHE & ACPA joint statement). Many of these barriers have been compounded by the unevenly distributed social and economic consequences of the pandemic, and serve as additional obstacles to access and aid, only to reinforce legal exclusions. We see, hear, and acknowledge these realities, including the trauma of experiencing the ongoing threat or impacts of detention or deportation, that all have direct impacts on so many young peoples’ (and their families’) lives. 

As a diverse Breakthrough community, we stand by you as advocates for the defense of DACA and so many other provisions that support the rights of all young people to unlock their true potential and lead full lives on and off college campuses. For these reasons and more, Breakthrough remains committed to: continually building upon and improving how we educate ourselves on what the most recent and future court and legislative decisions mean to our students and their families; working to connect unique services such as legal representation and financial assistance with those who need it; defending in-state aid to undocumented students (with and without DACA); advocating for the allocation of more financial assistance (e.g., scholarships, emergency funds); supporting undocumented youth dealing with anxiety and trauma; and continuing to offer practical immigration resources and holistic, guided advising to capitalize on the incredible aspirational, academic, cultural, and linguistic assets of our undocumented students and families.

In a moment when our community and the world is filled with so much emotion as we’ve witnessed historic protests around the country in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, we acknowledge the role that systemic racism has in the barriers we seek to dismantle. We, as individuals and an organization, emphatically reject all forms of hate. We promise to wholeheartedly take up the ongoing work of allyship with you and pledge that we will be HERE with you to support you on your journey in all ways we can. 

If you have additional questions or need guidance related to the recent court decision, please consult with legal counsel directly. Breakthrough has coordinated a partnership with Catholic Charities Central Texas to offer free immigration legal aid to our students and families, as do a growing number of institutions of higher education and community-based organizations locally and across the nation. For more information about this service, please contact your Breakthrough advisor or visit: https://www.ccctx.org/immigration-legal-services/

Immigration Legal Aid

Immigrant students with an authorization letter from Breakthrough Central Texas can receive free legal advice from Catholic Charities at its Austin location. These services include a comprehensive initial consultation, advice on applying for and renewing DACA, TPS or other immigration visas and advice on many immigration legal matters by certified Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) lawyers.

Please contact your Breakthrough Advisor to obtain the authorization letter and information sheet for how to make an appointment with Catholic Charities.