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Dozens attend DACA renewal event as deadline nears

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Five non-profit groups teamed up Saturday to host an event to help undocumented immigrants currently protected through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA. This group of immigrants faces a deadline of October 5 to renew their status after the Trump administration announced the program would be phased out in six months.

The event was hosted at the Avondale Meadows YMCA from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 100 people pre-registered for legal advice and help filling out the required paperwork.

Yami Silva was born in Mexico but brought here at the age of six. She is one of more than 10,000 people currently protected by DACA in Indiana.

“We have to rush right now to get things done,” Silva said.

Her sense of urgency comes after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA earlier this month.

“If we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this overreach,” Sessions said at the time.

President Donald Trump said he wants to come up with a fair solution. His administration also said the matter should be up to congress.

For now, Silva faces an uncertain future.

“I don’t feel like I’m ready to go back to a place that I know nothing about,” Silva said. “This is my home. This is where I feel like I was born.”

The usual cost of DACA renewal is $495. Silva said she waited to renew her status because she didn’t have the money before.

Event organizers surprised several people with the news that their filing fees would be covered by donors.

“They’re good kids, kids who are in school, going on to pursue higher education, working and contributing to society,” said Jennifer Brown, a partner at Ice Miller LLP.

In order to qualify for DACA, undocumented immigrants must have arrived in the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday, be in school or have obtained a diploma, have no criminal issues, and have continuously resided in the U.S. since 2007.

“This is a vulnerable population,” Brown said. “These are kids who came here through no participation of their own.”