President Barack Obama announced a directive to the Department of Homeland Security on June 15th permitting immigrant youth that meet certain requirements to apply for deferred action from deportation as well as for work authorization beginning August 15, 2012. The NJ Dream Act Coalition (NJ DAC), organized volunteers to assist youth in completing the deferred action and work authorization applications free of charge on August 25th at Rutgers-Newark, resulting in 160 applicants receiving assistance.
Supervising attorneys and clinical law students from the Center for Social Justice of Seton Hall Law School (SHU Law School), law students from the Women's Law Forum of SHU Law School, law students from the National Lawyer’s Guild Chapter of Rutgers Law School-Newark, as well as students from the LGBTQ Resource and Diversity Center at Rutgers, co-sponsored this event with NJDAC. The event was held from 8:00am to 6:00pm in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center of Rutgers-Newark. Volunteer Attorneys and law students received training from SHU Law Alumn Cesar Martin Estela, from 9:00am to 11:00am and then assisted applicants with the Deferred Action application from 11:00am to 5:00pm.
An estimated 40,000 youth may be eligible for Deferred Action in New Jersey alone. Thanks to all the volunteers at the NJDAC Deferred Action Application Drive, 160 applicants received legal information, 40 of whom completed their DACA application. Using the modest estimate of a $1,000 fee for the DACA application process charged by some attorneys, immigrant youth received approximately $160,000 worth of legal services at this event.
Attorneys volunteered from throughout the state, many from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the South Asian Bar Association (SABA). Collaboration between Seton Hall Law School students and Rutgers Law School students, as well as between private law firm attorneys and public interest attorneys was truly impressive.
Notably, Morristown resident and SHU Law School graduate, 2012, Kimberly Krone was among the first to arrive and last to leave, giving a total of 10 hours in volunteer services. Although applicants were aware that services would be provided beginning at 11:00am, applicants arrived beginning at 5:45am. When volunteers arrived for training at 8:00am, a line had already formed. The last applicant was processed at 6:00pm.