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December 11, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Dreamers – young undocumented immigrants who, as children, came to the United States with their parents – are now eligible to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, allowing them to remain in the United States without fear of being deported.
Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, JD, immigration attorney and Director of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Office of Immigration Assistance, is available free of charge to help Dreamers apply for DACA status or renew their applications.
The DACA program was initiated during the administration of President Barack Obama, but rescinded under President Donald Trump in 2017. In June 2020, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration had violated procedural law in rescinding the program, and a federal court in New York ruled on December 4, 2020, that DACA had to be reinstated. About 646,000 Dreamers have benefited from DACA since 2012, and about 685,000 more young immigrants could be eligible for the program.
To be eligible, immigrants must have entered the United States before turning 16; be at least 15 and no more than 30 years old; and have been in the United States continuously since June 15, 2007, and present in the country on June 15, 2012. They must also be free of a disqualifying criminal record, which includes a felony conviction; three or more misdemeanor convictions; significant misdemeanor convictions, such as driving while under the influence, domestic abuse, possession of a controlled substance or firearm; or involvement in any circumstance that could be viewed as a danger to public safety or national security.
In preparation for the application process, please organize the following documents that prove your eligibility:
Proof of identity, date of birth, and qualifying age: birth certificate, passport, and National Identity Document/Cedula.
Proof of five years of continuous residence in the United States as of June 15, 2012: school records, financial records, employment records, tax records, medical records, church records, driving records.
Proof of being in school, having a high school diploma or GED, or honorable discharge from the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces: school transcript, report cards, high school diploma or GED certificate, or discharge papers.
Proof that you do not have a disqualifying conviction and do not pose a public safety or national security risk: juvenile court records or criminal court records, if any. If you have not been arrested or charged with an offense, you do not have to prove this; you will be required to make an appointment to have your fingerprints taken to determine if you have an arrest record.
If you are eligible and are prepared to gather the necessary documents, please call Laura Negron-Terrones, Administrative Assistant, at 517-266-3526 to discuss the next steps.
July 5, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters added their voices to thousands of others on June 30 as they participated in Families Belong Together marches throughout the United States. Demonstrations throughout the nation protested the U.S. immigration policy that has separated children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border as the families attempted to enter the United States without formal documents.
Sister Corinne Florek was one of about 2,000 people to attend a rally at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. “It was inspiring because most of the speakers were young children,” she recalled. “They reminded us of the children’s march during the fight for civil rights. One girl spoke of her father being taken by ICE and how that affected her.”
Sisters Mary Trzasko, OP, and Beverly Stark, OP, were present at the rally in Charleston, South Carolina. Sister Beverly made the connection between the current immigration issue and the history of slavery in the U.S. South. “We gathered on and all around the steps of the Court House in Charleston, South Carolina, which is only a few blocks away from where slaves were bought and sold and families separated,” she said. “It was wrong and cruel then and it’s wrong and cruel today.”
About 20 Adrian Dominican Sisters were present for the rally in Adrian. Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Director of the Congregation’s Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, noted that the people of Adrian have been consistently attending rallies calling for social justice – from the Poor People’s Campaign and March for our Lives to the June 30 Families Belong Together March. “There was a lot of enthusiasm,” she said. “It was very encouraging.” The rally began at 11:00 a.m., and by noon, the crowd had grown to 150.
“The rally was very well attended in spite of the heat,” said Sister Annette Sinagra, OP, who also attended the march in Adrian. “It was a great support for the children and families that have suffered so very much under the cruel policies of [President] Trump.”
Sister Esther Kennedy, OP, also joined the Adrian march. “I was grateful for everyone who came. I also appreciated the cars that went by and honked…in support of immigration reform.”
Sister Esther spoke of her own motive for attending the rally. “We can feel overwhelmed in these kinds of situations, like there’s nothing we can do,” she said. “I do not want to be silent. I must put my body, my heart, my spirit, to join with others, and it’s not just in protest, but in remembering the core values this democracy was founded on. There have been times in our American history when we have not protested enough. I don’t want this to be one of those times.”
Sister Kathleen believes the message of the rally in Adrian goes beyond the call for an end to cruel separation of families at the border. The underlying message of the June 30 rally and the other recent rallies is the same. “There’s a consistent message that voting in November is going to be very, very important,” she said. “We need to get out the vote in November because that’s the only way we’re going to make any changes.”
Sister Cheryl Liske, OP, a community organizer, attended the Families Belong Together Rally on July 2 in Saginaw, Michigan. She accompanied members of the Ezekiel Project of Saginaw, one of four organizations that were called upon to speak during the rally. About half of the people who attended the rally then went to the office of Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) to present a cage full of toys for the children at the border. The action was in reference to reports that children at the border had been put into cages.
Sister Virginia “Ginny” King, OP, attended two rallies in the Detroit area, the first in front of the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Detroit. From there, she attended a related rally at the Hart Plaza in Detroit, traveling with “a small but diverse group,” she recalled.
Feature photo (top): Participating in the rally in Adrian are, from left, Sisters Joella Miller, OP; Maurine Barzantni, OP; Corinne Sanders, OP; Carmen Álvarez, OP; and Sara Fairbanks, OP.
Rally participants gather at the Court House in Charleston, South Carolina