In late 2012, the Center for Legal and Social Justice began providing free legal assistance to people applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Its St. Mary’s DACA Project helps eligible low-income individuals who came to the United States as children receive protection from deportation, authorization to work, and a Texas driver license. The St. Mary’s DACA Project has helped 200 people file applications, as of January 2014.
“We have yet to hear of even a single denial on any of our applications,” said Clinical Fellow and Supervising Attorney Adriane Meneses. “We ask that our applicants call us and tell us when they get a decision on their case. So far, every applicant who has reported back has been approved. And we plan to work hard to keep our 100 percent success rate as we expand south to Laredo.”
The St. Mary’s DACA Project process also involves screening applicants for permanent forms of immigration relief and counseling them about what to expect during and after the application process.
In November 2013, the St. Mary’s DACA Project received a generous grant from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation to expand its free services to Bexar, Atascosa, Dimmit, McMullen, La Salle, Frio, Zavala, Duval, Webb and Maverick counties.
The initiative is largely driven by students of the St. Mary’s University School of Law.
“It is a gratifying moment when your hard work helps another person achieve their dreams,” said student volunteer Sean D. Menendez Cabrera. This is an opportunity for people to come out of the shadows and work toward their academic or professional goals by receiving work authorization, he said.
The St. Mary’s DACA Project is located within the Center for Legal and Social Justice at 2507 NW 36th St., San Antonio, Texas, 78228. Applicants can email to schedule an intake appointment or by calling 210-431-5730.
Media inquiries are welcome. For more information, please contact Adriane Meneses by email or by phone at 210-431-5748.
People who meet DACA requirements are known as “DREAMers” because they largely meet the requirements of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. There are roughly 1.4 million immigrants in the United States who might meet DACA requirements, according to the American Immigration Council. More than 226,000 of them are in Texas – second only to California.
The mission of the Center for Legal and Social Justice is to provide a supporting learning environment for law students who, under the supervision of a licensed attorney, will provide legal services for low-income clients who are not adequately served by other providers.