IMPORTA Santa Barbara, a non-profit organization serving local low-income immigrants, will provide Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals renewals for free to applicants after it received a grant from the state of California.
First created in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provided legal protection to eligible youth who came to the United States as children without documentation and prevented deportation.
Currently, the program exists in a state of jeopardy. Since July 2021, the DACA program has been effectively suspended following a federal court injunction that deemed the program to be “illegal.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is currently being prevented from processing new applications, although renewals will still be processed.
Nearly 3,460 DACA participants are enrolled across the UC campuses, and at least 544 non-student DACA participants are employed by the UC, with another 1,200 in work-study positions on campus, according to the November 2021 letter from the UC Office of the President.
DACA recipients must file for a renewal of their status and work-authorization permits every two years, which can cost up to $495.
IMPORTA, a non-profit recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice, provides free legal services and representation to low-income clients on immigration matters, including DACA applications and petitions. IMPORTA has offices in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria and is currently the largest provider of legal immigration services in Santa Barbara County, according to its website.
“IMPORTA has processed more DACA applications than any other provider of immigration services in Santa Barbara County with a near 100% success record. We treat each case individually and have overcome potential rejections based on misleading juvenile criminal records or other errors by USCIS adjudicators,” the website stated.
IMPORTA will offer to cover the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services fee associated with DACA renewals so long as the grant funding lasts, according to its Instagram account @importa_sb.
“Periodically, the State of California provides us with grants to pay applicants $495 fee, and we have also welcome private grants to help needy applicants pay these high fees which come due every two years,” the website stated.
Applicants can call IMPORTA’s Santa Barbara office at 805-604-5060 to schedule an appointment for a free DACA renewal.
A version of this article appeared on p. 5 of the April 14 print edition of the Daily Nexus.