DREAMers who live in Rhode Island will not have to worry about paying a $495 renewal fee for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty program, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced on Monday.
Raimondo, a Democrat, says that she and a coalition of individuals and organizations have raised more than $170,000 in donations to cover the $495 renewal fee “for every DREAMer in Rhode Island” who is eligible to apply for relief under DACA, an executive action announced by President Obama in 2012 that grants legal status to individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
It does not appear that taxpayer funds will be used to cover the DACA fees.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that it is ending the program, which provides amnesty to 800,000 so-called DREAMers.
New DACA applications are no longer being accepted, but individuals who have already qualified under the program are being allowed to apply for a two-year renewal of their legal status until Oct. 5.
In a statement announcing her initiative, Raimondo said that it was a response to the Trump administration’s move to end DACA.
“A couple of weeks ago, when the Trump administration announced its plan to end the DACA program, we gathered in Central Falls and pledged to do everything in our power to stand up for Rhode Island’s DREAMers,” Raimondo said. “We’re not going to allow $495 to stand in the way of our neighbors’ dreams. Now is the time to fight for our values and take action against hatred and bigotry.”
Despite that criticism, Trump has given mixed signals about whether he actually wants to end DACA. The Republican has said that he hopes that Congress will pass legislation protecting DREAMers. He has also been in negotiations with Democrats on ways to save the program, which is strongly opposed by Trump’s base.
It is not clear how many Rhode Island DREAMers will be covered by the Raimondo-led initiative, which is being coordinated by the Rhode Island Foundation.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, Rhode Island has 5,000 residents who qualify for DACA relief, though not all of those eligible for protection under DACA have applied for the program.