Over 400 Pack Forum of First Day of Deferred Action for DREAMers

Lawyers and advocates offer group and individual assistance at largest gathering in New England

August 16, 2012 BOSTON — Over 400 young people packed into the gymnasium at Roca in Chelsea last night, eager to hear advocates and lawyers explain how to apply for the program that will allow young undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits and live without fear of deportation. Organized by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Organization and Roca, the gathering was the largest in New England, and one of dozens held that day by similar organizations across the country. Nationally, 1.8 million young people are estimated to qualify for this administrative action, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), including some 10 to 20,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 30 in Massachusetts. The Chelsea forum lasted nearly three hours, with a presentation on community outreach by the Chelsea Police Department, followed by a detailed PowerPoint presentation in English and Spanish about the program by MIRA staff and board president John Wilshire-Carrera, of Greater Boston Legal Services.The event also offered immigrants one-on-one legal consultations, with the assistance of volunteers from the American Immigration Lawyers' Association.

"Yesterday was the beginning of a dream come true," said Eva Millona, Executive Director of MIRA. "Young people brought here by their parents as children, who consider this country their home in every other way, will now be able to take jobs, attend school, and live the lives that their friends and classmates take for granted. Part of our message is that this ray of light provided by DACA must be widened by Congress, through passage of the DREAM Act and immigration reform. Without that, these young people still are not as American on paper as they feel in their hearts — their travel is severely limited, and their status must be renewed every two years. But for those who have known only shadows, a ray of light is a great gift, for which we thank the Obama Administration. We also thank our partners at ROCA, AILA and GBLS, as well as the support of the Chelsea Police Department. And we invite everyone to find out about their eligibility, attend our upcoming forums, and be on the lookout for more information on assistance soon."