Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo announced Monday new efforts to aid some of the estimated 1,200 "Dreamers" in the Ocean State who could face deportation.
Raimondo said local and national funders have raised enough money to pay the $495 renewal fee for every RI participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program who can apply to renew that status by October 5. She called that a good investment in the state's future.
"They’re your friends, they’re your neighbors, they go to school with your kids," Raimondo said during a Statehouse news conference. "They’re in the grocery store. They’re behind you on the bus. They are Rhode Islanders. They are young people who we want here. And this is about just allowing the American dream to exist and thrive and live and be alive."
President Trump announced earlier this month he was repealing the order that created the DACA program, which allows immigrants brought to the country illegally as children to work and live in the U.S. without fear of deportation. The Trump Administration has said that the program will end in March. But Trump has also called on Congress to address the situation and expressed sympathy for the so-called Dreamers.
Raimondo said she agrees with Trump that Congress must act, but she said it's cruel and misguided to hold a threat of deportation over young people who came to the US as young children and are striving to become productive citizens.
The governor said free legal advice will be offered to DACA recipients through a coalition composed of the Rhode Island Center for Justice, the Immigration Clinic and the Pro Bono Collaborative, both at Roger Williams University School of Law, Progresso Latino, Doras International Institute, and the Coalition of Advocates for Student Opportunities.
“This is a human issue," Raimondo said. "Get to know any one of these people. They came here when they one year old, five years old, 10 years old. They had no choice. Their parents took them to this country, in most cases to flee another country for safety."