University of Missouri-Kansas City law students are helping young people who were brought to the country illegally as children renew their work-study authorization ahead of an Oct. 5 deadline.
President Trump announced last month he would be ending the Obama-era Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, more commonly known as DACA. The program allowed immigrants who were minors when they entered the U.S. to work and attend school legally.
Immigrants with DACA status with permits that expired on or before March 5, 2018, were told they only had 30 days to renew them. It’s unclear what will happen to the more than 800,000 people participating in the DACA program going forward.
“So we’re on a real tight timeline,” says UMKC Law School Interim Dean Barbara Glesner Fines.
Glesner Fines says law students aren’t so much giving legal advice but making sure the forms are filled out very precisely. She says little mistakes – writing your address is 500 E. 52nd St. in one spot and 500 East 52nd Street in another – is enough to get an applicant rejected.
“The law students are trained to look for those details of dotting i’s and crossing t’s really quite literally,” Glesner Fines says.
There are more than 3,000 individuals with DACA status in Missouri, though there’s no way to know how many are eligible for renewal. Glesner Fines says there are probably about 30 DACA students at UMKC.
“Our students and faculty and alumni who’ve stepped up to help with this program, most of them are not immigration attorneys or students of immigration law,” she says. “They’re just people who want to help, and it’s been so gratifying.”
The law school has already held three clinics and will hold a fourth from 5-8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 2. The clinic is being held at the law school, 500 E. 52nd St., Kansas City, MO 64110.
Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.