Urgent phone calls and frantic legwork kept Titan Dreamers Resource Center coordinator Henoc Preciado nearly unavailable around the time he was due for a sit down with the Daily Titan, peeling rubber as he scrambled from one section of the center to the next and pausing the interview to take more calls.
It was business as usual, given recent events.
When he finally settled back into his desk, Preciado said that not all student recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will be able to renew their status.
“What’s really critical for us right now is ensuring that students who are able to renew their DACA (status) do so,” Preciado said.
With current DACA recipients given a mere month’s notice by the U.S. Department of Justice to renew their status by Oct. 5 and Preciado unsure of whether or not CSUF students will submit their forms on time, he and the TDRC have been scrambling to alert current recipients of their dwindling chances.
Preciado coordinates what remains of the dream.
Preciado cautions DACA recipients that while they have until the Oct. 5 deadline to submit their renewal applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), they likely have even less time.
“If something gets mailed on Oct. 5 to USCIS, there is always a chance it might not be received by that date,” Preciado said. “The earlier that folks are able to get it in, the better it is.”
Preciado is unsure if the CSUF DACA recipient population in its entirety will be safe by the deadline.
“I think it’s one thing to get support to fill out the application and a whole other to come up with $495 to pay the application fee,” Preciado said. “I think for a lot of our students, that is a lot of money and they were only given a month’s notice.”
However, Preciado wanted to remind DACA recipients that the safety of their education status is not contingent on the existence of DACA.
“Their financial aid is not impacted. Their ability to pay in-state tuition is not impacted. The program services they’re able to obtain at the university are still there,” Preciado said.
Instead, it’s the work eligibility, the mainstay on which undocumented students can fund their education, that is subject to removal.
“Unfortunately, not every student gets all of their tuition and fees covered through financial aid and so folks have to come up with that money somehow,” Preciado said.
An uncertain future
With the Trump administration’s removal of the program, Preciado noted the increase of “students in crisis” at the TDRC.
“These are students who maybe just found out about the news or cannot believe the news,” Preciado said. “Or maybe there’s somebody whose DACA permit expires past March 5, 2018 and they’re in disbelief. They’re trying to see what … options are available, which for USCIS there are no options.”
Regardless, Preciado says the TDRC is pushing through the dire circumstances to do what the center was created for.
“For many people, this center serves as a repository for information. We’re reliable. We’re safe. We’re a place that they can come to, to get their questions answered,” Preciado said. “(The center is) still planning for upcoming events.”
Preciado said one of those events will be a free DACA renewal clinic with World Relief Garden Grove on Friday.
“We’re able to provide services to students who are in need of getting support as they complete their renewal application,” Preciado said.
Even as the TDRC mobilizes to reach as many students as it can, Preciado acknowledged the amount of outreach by the university.
“President (Mildred) García was here. Interim Provost (Anil) Puri was here. We had a lot of folks who are very vocal supporters of undocumented students who were here,” Preciado said. “At large, the university is really supportive. We became the first Cal State in the system to establish this center for a reason.”