DACA Cancellation Would Affect Thousands In New England

Sep 5, 2017

President Donald Trump's likely repeal of a program that protects some undocumented immigrants from deportation would threaten thousands across New England, placing some in dire situations.

Nearly 15,000 people across the region have been approved for protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services show. The program was established in 2012, and allows for some undocumented immigrants between the ages of 15 and 31 to avoid deportation for two years.

The Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition will provide free legal advice regarding DACA issues if the program is cancelled, said Executive Director Eva Millona.

"All avenues will be investigated to see if there other legal venues for them to apply for relief," Millona said.

Clients of Northampton, Mass.-based immigration attorney Megan Kludt have often sought assistance with DACA-related issues, Kludt said in an interview.

Some people she has advised qualify for other programs that prevent deportation, Kludt said. But that's far from everyone.

"There are going to be people that we simply can't help," Kludt said. "[Our advice] is going to go back to what we were telling people before DACA, which is, call legislators."

The way Millona sees it, it will be up to state officials to protect immigrants approved under DACA if the program is cancelled.

Correction: An estimated 15,000 people in New England are protected under DACA, according to USCIS. Federal officials have approved approximately 35,000 initial DACA grants and renewals for immigrants applying with New England addresses.