- By Nancy Flores American-Statesman Staff
For 20-year-old Luis Flores, who lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, pursuing his graphic design career goals became much more of a challenge after the Trump administration announced last September its decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
In Texas, more than 100,000 young immigrants are DACA recipients and receive protection from deportation while they work and study. A federal judge last month declined to order the program’s halt and, for the moment, DACA renewals are still being accepted by the U.S. government.
However, moving fast to renew isn’t always possible for families who must spend $495 for each child who’s part of the program. For college students, such as Flores, who don’t qualify for any federal student aid, the renewal fee isn’t always feasible either. That’s why Flores last month turned to the online fundraising site GoFundMe for help.
His campaign to raise funds for DACA renewal fees for him and his sister is among the nearly 50 GoFundMe DACA campaigns in Texas. The surge in such campaigns over the past few months prompted a partnership between GoFundMe and the national bipartisan group Fwd.us to launch a centralized hub making it easier for so-called Dreamers to quickly start their own campaigns to pay the $495.
“This country is our home,” Flores wrote. “It is where we have grown up, and where we want to continue contributing to.”
Since the centralized hub’s launch, more than $80,000 has been raised nationwide and Flores exceeded his $1,000 financial goal. In total, there have been more than 200 campaigns launched by DACA recipients or on behalf of DACA recipients over the past few months, according to GoFundMe.
Only those who have had DACA status in the past and still meet the eligibility requirements can apply for renewal. No new DACA applications are being accepted.
The continued risk of DACA being eliminated, said Peter Boogaard, communications director for Fwd.us, brought the groups together for the joint effort. While online campaigns to raise funds for DACA renewals existed before the hub, now there’s a one-stop shop for donors interested in helping the cause. GoFundMe highlights the campaigns near each potential donor, and Fwd.us informs DACA recipients of this new option. As a result of the centralized hub, all the campaigns are highly visible.
For the Texas State University organization Student Community of Progressive Empowerment, better known as SCOPE, the hub’s increased promotional boost helped bring donations from beyond the Central Texas community.
SCOPE raised $550 to help pay the DACA renewal fee for a Texas State student who reached out to the organization for help. The group, which launched in 2015, supports and serves unauthorized students as well as Hays County residents.
“DACA recipients are often the sole providers for their households,” said Monica Mendez, press secretary for SCOPE. “More than anything, being able to afford the renewal fees provides immediate relief that they will be OK for now.”
In addition to the centralized hub, the nonprofit group Direct Impact Fund has partnered with GoFundMe to establish the Protect DACA Youth Fund. For donors not interested in sifting through hundreds of fundraising campaigns, the group collects and distributes the money raised to existing GoFundMe pages created by or for DACA recipients for renewal application fees.
“We’ll continue moving forward (with the central hub) as long as DACA renewals continue to be open,” Boogaard said.