CHD Launches Dream Fund to Protect Young Immigrants

All fees paid for DACA immigration renewals

As protections promised to “Dreamers” hang in limbo, California Human Development (CHD) is taking action to shield at least some of the young immigrants who may face deportation under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump. Today, the Sonoma County-based social service agency announces the formation of the philanthropically funded Dream Fund, with monies set aside to quickly and efficiently process no less than 60 DACA renewals prior to the January 20, 2017 presidential inauguration. DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, provides certain qualifying young undocumented immigrants with the temporary right to work in the U.S. and relief from deportation.

“President Barack Obama dubbed this group of immigrants the ‘Dreamers,” because these are people with their whole futures ahead of them,” says Christopher Paige, CEO of California Human Development. “These young adults came to the U.S. as children, most were raised and educated here and consider this to be their home. We feel strongly about helping to ensure their right to stay, as long as it is legally possible for us to do so,” adds Paige.

While CHD is following the conventional wisdom and not working on any first-time DACA applications pending more information about the future of the DACA program, the agency is focusing increased efforts on securing two-year DACA renewals for those who are eligible. These are people who provided the federal government with their personal information in 2012 to take advantage of the new DACA program. The Dream Fund seeks to generate enough funds to pay the $465 federal processing and application fee for a minimum of 60 of these young community members. Staff are committed to processing applications beyond the 60 should the Dream Fund grow enough to cover these costs.

“Other DACA renewal service providers’ fees can easily push the overall cost of this process from $600 to $1,000 or more depending on the complexity of the application,” says Kathy Differding, CHD’s immigration expert. “The cost is the final barrier for many of these young people.”

Differding, who is accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), says the Dream Fund will help take away that barrier so she and her staff can get the renewal applications into the system as quickly as possible—gaining an additional two years of protection for at least some Dreamers.

CHD is working with local philanthropic leaders and individual donors to establish the Dream Fund. Early indications are that the fund will reach its minimum goal of $48,900.

“We have faith the people of northern California will provide the funding needed to protect our Dreamers and are committed to this endeavor” says Paige, who provided the first contribution to the fund. “Though, frankly, I am hopeful and excited by the possibility of exceeding our goal. What better investment can one make than one that directly affects a young person’s future?”

Paige says protecting the future of Dreamers in Sonoma County seems to be a hot button of concern, but the future is uncertain and now is the time for action.

Contributions can be made through CHD’s online giving portal, https://squareup.com/market/californiahumandevelopment.

Dead Broke to “Living the Dream!”

From seasonal farmworker earning poverty wages to lead driver for El & El Wood Products in Galt! Today, Victor Perez proudly supports his growing family and is thrilled to be “living the American Dream!

A hard-working family man from Mexico, Victor spent years in California’s San Joaquin Valley making what few would consider a living wage, including harvesting and picking grapes for less than $4,000 a year. Though he had documents to work in the U.S. and applied for full-time work often, he could not get a job. Desperately, Victor realized he wasn’t meeting his family’s needs with seasonal work. About this time, Victor had the good fortune to meet a representative from EDD’s Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker program. The representative connected Victor to California Human Development’s Lodi WorkNet Center and soon he was enrolled in truck driving training. Though Victor has an 8th grade literacy and math level, he proved himself to be an excellent student—showing “remarkable responsibility and positive attitude,” according to his instructor. Victor completed his training in 2015 and obtained his Class A truck driving license. True to his nature, he diligently applied for work and quickly secured two job offers. He accepted the position with EL & EL Wood Products earning a living wage for the first time in his life and was soon promoted to lead driver earning significantly more! Today, Victor is a role model and leader in his job, teaching graduates from CHD’s programs and other new hires to be good drivers and employees so they too can reach their goals and improve their lives.