DACA in the African Community
“UAO is a very good organization that has made sure everybody has opportunities. They are very graceful and understanding. UAO is like family to Africans in Chicago”- Matthew
When he was a child, Matthew came to the United Sates from his home country of Kenya and, through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), has been able to lead a happy and prosperous American life. After speaking with Matthew for only a few minutes it became clear that he has taken full advantage of the DACA program, and has continued to work hard towards his own version of the American Dream. DACA, he says, has allowed him to work and go to school here in Chicago, for which he is very grateful. In addition, Matthew made it very clear that DACA status has put him at ease when it comes to the thought of deportation, allowing him to focus on the more important things in life like friends and family. While Matthew does admit that DACA is not written in stone, and that the next administration following Obama’s departure may potentialyl choose to discontinue the program, he chooses to have just as much faith in America as it has had in him. DACA, he says, has allowed him to get a taste of the American Dream, and hopes that one day he can contribute to his community as a full United States citizen.
Friday August 15th will mark the two-year anniversary of the release of the DACA. Put in place by the Obama administration in June of 2012, the program is one example of the administration’s commitment to immigration reform- a hot topic among policy makers in Washington today. As our last blog post announced, Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson recently renewed the DACA program allowing persons who qualify to remain in the United States without fear of deportation for another two years, and opening the doors to a handful of opportunities for undocumented immigrants who otherwise live in fear of the American government day in, and day out.
Recent USCIS statistics have shown that there are over 32,000 DACA applicants in the State of Illinois alone, making it the state with the 3rd largest number of total applicants in the country. While numbers indicate that close to 1,200 Nigerians applied for DACA nationwide, they are the only African nation to crack the list of the top 30 most applicants per country (Mexico tops the list at 443,500 applicants). Among the individuals who received DACA status after applying at the time of its survey, USCIS specified that 59% of DACA recipients have obtained new jobs, 21% have internships, 49% opened a bank accounts, 33% were granted a credit card, 21% obtained healthcare, and 45% overall increased their job earnings.
Here at UAO, we are committed to the advancement of all immigrants, and as a result have spent some time exploring how DACA has affected members of our own African community here in Chicago.
For more information on applying for DACA status we encourage you to reference our previous blog post and visit USCIS at the following link: http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca.
Written by Lance Greenberg, Summer 2014 Intern