Philadelphia, Sept. 11, 2017 – Councilwoman Helen Gym (At-Large) on Monday joined City and state leaders, advocates, and representatives of The Philadelphia Foundation to announce the launch of The Dreamers Initiative, an effort to raise funds to support Pennsylvania applicants to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“We are telling our young people that you will not face the injustices of this presidential administration alone, and that, at the highest levels, the City of Philadelphia stands with you,” said Councilwoman Gym, flanked by a diverse coalition of immigrants’ rights advocates, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (PA 1st District), and several DACA-eligible youth in the Mayor’s Reception Room in City Hall.
Mayor Jim Kenney added: “It’s important to remember that there is always something we can do, even when faced with an institution as powerful as the presidency. Let’s show our fellow Philadelphians that, no matter where they were born, we welcome them here and, that as the birthplace of this country, we know what our country’s core values really are.”
The federal government recently announced an end to the DACA program. Application renewals for the two-year program will be accepted until October 5th, but for many young people, the $495 fee is overwhelming.
The Dreamers Initiative is part of the PA is Ready! fund at The Philadelphia Foundation, the community foundation serving the Greater Philadelphia region. PA is Ready! has been active since 2015 and has already distributed more than $600,000 in awards to immigrant-serving organizations across the state.
Through September 25th, tax-deductible donations to The Dreamers Initiative will be exclusively devoted to community-based organizations working with DACA-eligible renewals to reimburse the $495 filing fee. Any additional funds will be used to support PA is Ready!’s overall work providing increased access to legal assistance and “know your rights” education for immigrant families.
Applicants will receive funding to cover the cost to renew their work permits under DACA on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information and to make a donation, visit: www.philafound.org/DreamersInitiative
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro added: “The federal government made a promise to DACA program recipients that is protected by the rule of law. That is why we filed a lawsuit to make sure President Trump keeps the federal government’s promise to DACA recipients.
“In the meantime, the President and Attorney General Sessions have created widespread confusion about DACA. When there’s confusion, there’s opportunity for scammers to prey on people’s anxiety and rip folks off. If someone is offering a special discount or ‘expedited’ processing, be careful. Research them online. Call their office. Report any suspicious services or offers to my office by emailing email@example.com or calling 1-800-441-2555.”
Sundrop Carter, executive director of Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, a leader of the PA is Ready! coalition, said: “DREAMers who intend to renew their work permits are encouraged to visit legal clinics hosted by trusted nonprofit organizations providing free legal assistance. Clinics are being held every day this week, with additional dates weekly until the October 5th application deadline. A full calendar with times and locations is available on their website:
The Philadelphia Bar Association will be supporting the clinics by coordinating pro bono volunteer lawyers through the “Take Action Philly” initiative, under the leadership of Chancellor Deborah Gross.
Miriam Enriquez, Director of the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said: “I cannot stress enough how important it is to seek help before the deadline to ensure that no opportunity is missed. Furthermore, it is essential that it be the right kind of help. The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has put together Action Guides with key information about DACA and other immigration-related issues. These will be updated as information becomes available. The action guides are available on their website:
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Councilwoman Helen Gym was sworn in as an At-Large Member of Council in 2016. Her primary concerns include addressing widespread poverty in Philadelphia, particularly through an emphasis on building a quality public education system. For more information, visit phlcouncil.com/HelenGym.