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Ensuring equal justice for all Kentuckians

Kentucky Equal Justice Center is a non-profit poverty law advocacy center

October 26, 2017

DACA opened doors to work and education

Noemi’s parents came to Lexington 20 years ago, hoping to give their daughter the best opportunities possible. Noemi has taken full advantage of those opportunities, as a social activist, medical assistant and mother. In high school, Noemi’s immigration status stopped her from getting a drivers’ license or a part-time job and from applying to college. Luckily, a talk by Erin Howard from Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) inspired Noemi to pursue her goals.
Noemi and her son at Festival Latino

Noemi qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allowed her to work and study and gave her some security. With new doors open to her, Noemi started college at BCTC while also working a full-time job. It wasn’t easy, and Noemi had to take a short break from school. She went back to finish her degree after becoming pregnant with her son and is now a pediatric medical assistant.

Noemi doesn’t only work hard to improve life for her own family. She also gives back as a social activist. When Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the DACA program, people needed a space to express their anger, sadness and hopes for the future. Together with other community leaders, Noemi organized a rally in Lexington in support of DACA. There, she bravely shared her story and encouraged others to do the same.

Noemi will keep fighting for permanent solutions for undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, she helps people find the information they need. Maxwell Street Legal Clinic has been a valuable resource for Noemi. She says, “I know I can always count on them when I need answers for the undocumented community.” Maxwell Street helped Noemi and many young people renew their DACA status this fall.

Maxwell Street Legal Clinic: Our DACA impact

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Since the beginning of the DACA program Maxwell Street Legal Clinic has helped 216 young people get and keep their DACA status. MSLC has filed 154 initial and 240 renewal applications, for a total of 394 applications. The application is expensive and the rules are clear. MSLC’s careful eligibility review has given us a 100% approval rate for submitted applications.

On September 5, 2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the DACA program was ending. No more initial applications would be considered. Current recipients whose DACA status was set expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 had one month to apply for a renewal. MSLC was able to send out 19 renewal applications before the October 5, 2017 deadline.

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KEJC Workers' Rights Task Force Meeting, May 16, 2017

Kentucky Equal Justice Center
201 West Short Street, Suite 310
Lexington, KY 40507