Understanding DACA & Community Resources

Sep 19, 2017 by Contributing Writer on The Nickelodeon Blog

Written and compiled by Christine Burke, Ana Garcia, and Amada Torruella.

On Wednesday, September 20th at 6:30pm, the Nickelodeon Theatre will host Dreamers: Immigration in America in partnership with DACA United SC, Indie Grits Labs, Appleseed Legal Justice Center, Palmetto Luna Arts, and SC United with Immigrants. The event will include a screening of Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America, a film that follows DACA recipient Moises Serrano’s journey to advocate immigrant and queer rights in rural North Carolina. The film will be accompanied by a conversation on immigration reform moderated by Ivan Segura, Executive Director of Palmetto Luna Arts and community activist.

In light of this event, a group of community members put together information to better understand DACA, recent developments surrounding the policy, and ways to get involved.

What is DACA?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program created by President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012 that provides limited immigration benefits for certain undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children. These young undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” came to the US before they were 16 years old with protection from deportation. In the state of South Carolina, there are nearly 7,000 DACA beneficiaries. On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced the DACA program will end on March 5, 2018. This means Congress has less than 6 months to pass a law to protect the DACA program. If Congress does not act, nearly 800,000 youth from all over the country will lose their ability to work, go to college, drive, and will be at risk of deportation to a country they do not know.

DACA Explained video by Vox:

In this video produced by Vox.com, a pioneer in explanatory journalism, the DACA program and its current status is explored in just five minutes.


What DACA is not

  • DACA is not a law passed by Congress; the program is more vulnerable than a law
  • DACA is not a pathway to citizenship, it only offers a temporary 2 year protection
  • Under the DACA program, an individual does not qualify for many benefits including: international travel, federal or state financial aid, many public benefits including professional licenses
  • Under South Carolina law, DACA recipients cannot become doctors, general contractors, cosmetologists, or obtain other professional licenses. They must also pay out-of-state tuition to attend public universities.
  • In most cases DACA recipients are ineligible for military service.

Learn more about the economic and health impacts of the DACA program:

journalistsresource.org has compiled a series of papers from economics and health journals, that explore the significant impacts of DACA,  “the largest immigration policy in the last 25 years.” Read this resource here.

What is the Dream Act?

  • The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act was first introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2001 but has failed to be introduced into Congress
  • The Dream Act of 2017 is bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  • The Dream Act would allow Dreamers including DACA recipients to work towards becoming conditional residents and ultimately permanent US residents, in some instances this can provide the basis for a pathway to citizenship.  

Dream Act 2017 legislation explanation by SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center

The DREAM Act of 2017, sponsored by SC Senator Lindsey Graham, will provide recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals of 2012 (DACA) a way to  stabilize their legal status and eventually become US citizens.  Those with DACA came to the US as children, grew up in United States, but have never been given a path to become US citizens.  For many, the United States is the only home they remember. To learn more about exactly what the DREAM Act would accomplish visit the SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Website.

Lindsey Graham’s official statement on Dream Act legislation

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Dream Act of 2017, which would allow immigrant students who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship.  These young people, known as Dreamers, have lived in America since they were children, built their lives here, and are American in every way except for their immigration status.  However, under current law they live in fear of deportation and have no chance to ever become citizens and fulfill their potential.

Learn more about the Dream Act from Senator Lindsey Graham’s office here.

What Does the March 5 Deadline Mean?

  • The 6 month “phase out” of the program also means that individuals whose 2 year work permits expire between September 5, 2017 (day of announcement) and March 5, 2018, (6 months after announcement) are eligible to renew one more time for a 2 year work permit.
  • However, they only have until October 5, 2017 to apply for renewal. Their application must be received by, not postmarked by, October 5. It is estimated that of the 800,000 young people with DACA, only 150,000 qualify for the renewal. This means there are 150,000 individuals who must  apply before October 5.
  • Some DACA recipients may be struggling to find the $495 required to pay the renewal fee.
  • To read more about the possible “end of DACA” read an important resource compiled by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center here.

How can I receive help with my renewal?

  1. UndocuMedia (nationwide)- This is an online platform for immigrant rights, which has set up a fundraiser with the goal of assisting 1,000 DACA recipients with their renewal applications. To apply for a $495 scholarship, fill out this form.
  2. DACA Fund (nationwide, based in Los Angeles, CA)- Immigrant rights organizers in Los Angeles put together an online fundraiser to help people  renew their DACA status. To apply for a DACA renewal scholarship, send an e-mail to [email protected]. In your e-mail you must include an attached copy/picture of your current work permit (note: omit personal info like your USCIS #, WAC #, address and birthday), along with a brief explanation of any financial hardships you are currently facing.
  3. Mexican Consulate (nationwide)- DACA Scholars, a free mobile app, announced that the Mexican Consulate will assist folks who are struggling financially and need to submit their DACA renewal applications before October 5th. Eligibility requirements vary slightly depending on the location so it is recommended that you contact your local Mexican Consulate office for more information and to apply.
  4. DACA Fund (nationwide, based in Seattle, WA)- Immigrant rights organizers in Seattle created an online fundraiser to provide financial assistance to DACA beneficiaries who need to submit their renewal application before October 5th. To apply, fill out this form.

Source: https://mydocumentedlife.org/2017/09/08/daca-renewal-scholarships/

How can I get involved locally?

Connect with DACA United SC

Invite DACA United SC to host a talk at your local faith group, organization, class or civic group. Contact DACA United SC organizers Ana or Christine at SC Appleseed via email at [email protected] or [email protected]  or via phone at 803-779-1112 X108

Reach out to local organizations to volunteer, attend an event or help disseminate information:

  • Young Immigrants in Action

Young Immigrants in Action (YIA) is a coalition of young immigrants across the state of South Carolina actively engaged in bettering their communities. https://www.facebook.com/yiaforsc/

  • SC United with Immigrants

South Carolina United with Immigrants is a coalition of member organizations and individuals actively engaged in efforts to address the needs of immigrants and their families in South Carolina. South Carolina United with Immigrants is committed to amplifying the voices and promoting the rights of immigrants and their families to participate fully in the civic, cultural, political and social life of our communities.


  • Simple Justice

Simple Justice is the official #BlackLivesMatter chapter for Columbia and the South Carolina Midlands. We are an unapologetically black, anti-racist formation established to support grassroots action and solidarity against abusive law enforcement, the school-to-prison pipeline, acts of racist violence and intimidation, economic Darwinism, token reformism, and the continued marginalization of Black, Latinx and progressive voices in South Carolina’s political affairs.



  • Hispanic Alliance

Hispanic Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to enrich the quality of life in our community by coordinating initiatives and building collaborations among service providers, the Hispanic members of our community, and the community at large.