The goal of the Advocacy / Culture & Engagement focus area is to connect and empower community members.
The work includes promotion of cultural awareness, activities include cultural and large-scale special events such as the annual Latin Fever Ball, Compañeros Awards Luncheon, State of Latinos Conference and Latino Student Art Contest; Hispanic Heritage Month Campaign; Civic Engagement Program; Membership Program; Latino Community Needs Assessment; and LAA app.
As a nonprofit that serves the needs of Atlanta’s Latino immigrants, we see firsthand the challenges and problems that our families face day in and day out. Using this knowledge, we work to influence decision makers as they craft public policies that affect our families. We see ourselves as a nexus between our families, whose voices may not be heard, and policymakers.
Our advocacy efforts center around building relationships and partnerships, public education and lobbying. Our goal is to play an important role in shaping policies that affect the lives of Latino immigrants.
We have recently expanded our public policy advocacy efforts. In 2014, we hired a director of policy and advocacy so we can be a leading voice representing Latino concerns and interests.
Through our advocacy efforts, we are bringing attention to issues that are highly aligned with our mission to empower Latinos to achieve their educational, social and economic aspirations. These issues include:
Making immigrants feel welcome in Georgia and ensuring they have access to services
- Immigration Reform
Comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the United States
Access and in-state college tuition for youth who are eligible for the immigration relief program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Employment opportunities and just working conditions for all Latinos
- Humanitarian Aid
Immigration relief, legal resources and assistance for unaccompanied children who are arriving from Central America
CULTURE AND ENGAGEMENT
With DACA expected to be phased out starting in March 2018, the fate of Georgia’s Dreamers hangs on the line
On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA, a deportation deferral program created in 2012 that protects young adults brought to the U.S. as children, will be phased out by March 5, 2018. President Trump has said he expects Congress to act during this time to find a more permanent solution for DREAMers.
Call to action: Help us rally support for legislation to protect DACA recipients!
In March 2018, DACA protection will start to phase out for 800,000 young immigrants who grew up in this country, including more than 24,000 DACA recipients in Georgia.
If Congress does not come up with a legislative solution soon, these Americans will lose their ability to work, attend college, support their families and contribute to our communities. They could be deported to a country they have never known.
Support is growing for a bipartisan bill that would provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship.
If you support protection for our Dreamers, please call your senators today and ask them to support legislation such as the Dream Act that will provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship
Sen. Johnny Isakson 1-855-215-1920
Sen. David Perdue 1-844-749-7985
Here is a script you can use when you call your senator:
My name is ____ and I am one of your constituents. I am calling to express my discontent with the White House’s decision to end DACA and ask Senator ______ to support legislative action that will protect young immigrants affected by the termination of DACA. Around 800,000 lives are affected because of President Trump’s decision to end DACA, and now it is time for Congress to pass a law that will provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.
We are asking Senator _____ for a clean bill to support the Dreamers.
Click here to view a summary of the bills that have been introduced in Congress to provide support for Dreamers. https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Dream-2017-legislation-compared.pdf
Frequently Asked Questions about DACA
What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known by its acronym DACA, is an immigration benefit for individuals brought to this country as children that was created by President Obama in June 2012. DACA provides eligible undocumented immigrants with a reprieve from deportation for two years.
DACA beneficiaries obtain a work permit, a Social Security number and a driver’s license, and they are even able to travel abroad. Individuals with DACA will not be placed under removal proceedings or be removed from the United States for that two-year period. DACA is renewable every two years.
Click here for a brief video that explains what DACA is
Does DACA grant legal status?
DACA is not a permanent solution and does not provide a path to permanent residency or U.S. citizenship. And while its recipients don’t gain legal status, it does give them lawful presence in this country.
DACA was created by executive order and not by Congressional action. Only Congress can create laws that offer legal status for immigrants.
Who is eligible for DACA?
In order to be eligible, immigrants must have arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday and meet some age and residency requirements. They must be at least 15 in order to request DACA and they must have been under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012.
Those eligible for DACA must also meet educational requirements (must be in school, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED) and must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors.
How many individuals are protected by DACA?
Some 800,000 young immigrants from countries all over the world are protected under DACA. In Georgia there are nearly 29,000 DACA beneficiaries and another 18,000 who are eligible but do not have DACA. Georgia is home to the seventh largest DACA population in the country.
Why was DACA created?
In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform that would offer a path to citizenship for undocumented young immigrants brought to this country as children, DACA was created by presidential discretion so that these individuals would not be deported. There are about 11 million undocumented people living in the United States, but young immigrants who were brought to this country as children, through no fault of their own, have elicited sympathy. In the early 2000s Congress failed to pass legislation that would have given these individuals, also known as DREAMers, a path to permanent residency. DACA was created to provide some type of relief to these young immigrants.
How does DACA change the lives of young immigrants?
DACA has allowed young immigrants who lived in the shadows for years to come out and live in the open. Having a driver’s licenses offers them an official state identification and the ability to drive themselves and their families to places such as the supermarket, school, doctor appointments, etc. Getting a Social Security numbers allows DACA recipients to open bank accounts and apply for credit cards. And a work permit allows DACA beneficiaries to work legally, which often means they are able to work higher paying jobs. They are also more likely to attend college under DACA, as they can work to pay the higher out-of-state tuition.
Several studies illustrate that DACA has improved the lives of its recipients and their families and that it has had a positive impact on the U.S. economy. A 2016 study by the Center for American Progress found that DACA increased recipients’ average hourly wage by 42%, which translates into higher tax revenues and economic growth. The study also found that recipients are getting better and higher-paying jobs because of DACA, and that DACA recipients are starting their own businesses at a higher rate than the American public as a whole.
What are some of the barriers that DACA recipients still face?
DACA recipients do not have legal status, so they are barred from attending Georgia’s five most selective public colleges and must pay out-of-state tuition at other state schools. They can attend private universities with the aid of scholarships.
DACA recipients are not on a path to residency or citizenship.
What impact does DACA have on the economy?
Young Georgia immigrants enrolled or immediately eligible for DACA now earn about $800 million a year in wages, according to the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute. That estimate includes $583 million a year earned by young immigrants enrolled in DACA and working on legal payrolls, as well as an additional $214 million earned by DACA-eligible immigrants who lack lawful status but are likely already working. Immigrant workers pump much of that money back into small businesses and local communities in the form of consumer spending, just as native-born residents do, says the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute.
Nationally, 87% of DACA recipients are employed, compared to 51% who worked before receiving DACA. And they are earning higher wages than before they had DACA because they can work legally.
A crackdown on DACA recipients poses considerable risk for Georgia’s overall economy. The Center for American Progress estimates that ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade. For Georgia, the estimated annual GDP loss from removing DACA workers is more than $1 billion.
How much does DACA cost the government?
DACA is a mostly self-sustaining program and applicants must pay hundreds of dollars to cover its administrative costs. Moreover, DACA recipients are not eligible to receive federal benefits such as SNAP or Medicaid. And if they enroll in Georgia public colleges or universities, they must pay the higher out-of-state tuition.
What would be the economic and fiscal impact of repealing DACA?
According to a recent study by the CATO Institute, the fiscal cost of immediately deporting 800,000 individuals protected by DACA would be more than $60 billion, along with a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.
In Georgia ending DACA would have a profound effect. Deporting the 47,000 young Georgians either enrolled or immediately eligible for DACA could shrink the state’s economy by an estimated $1.7 billion a year, according to the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute.
What does the future for DACA recipients look like, and what can I do?
It is not clear what the end of DACA would look like for its recipients, but it will have a catastrophic impact on the lives of these young immigrants. If DACA is repealed, hundreds of thousands of young immigrants will lose their ability to live and work legally in this country and may be subject to deportation. With nothing to protect these young immigrants, the best hope if for Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Several bills have been introduced in Congress that would provide protection for DREAMers. In July, Senator Lindsey Graham and other senators introduced the Dream Act of 2017, which would give conditional permanent residency to eligible DACA recipients.
So what happens to DACA recipients on March 5, 2018? DACA recipients whose permit expired before March 5, 2018 had until October 5, 2017 to renew their DACA for two years.
DACA will start to phase out on March 5, 2018, six months after the Trump administration announced that the program will be ending. It is not clear what the phase out will look like. But if Congress has not passed legislation by that date to protect DACA recipients, these young immigrants face the risk of having their DACA expire, therefore losing their ability to work legally and possibly being deported.
Information for DACA Recipients
If you have DACA, these are the top five things you need to know about the September 5 DACA announcement.
If you have DACA, here are more things you need to know, including DACA expiration, permission to travel and what happens to your Social Security Number and driver’s license.
If you have DACA, here are more answers to some immediate questions you may have, including issues of employment, education and health care.
The Department of Homeland Security provides answers questions for DACA recipients in Spanish.
Resources/Tool Kits for DACA Recipients
Preparedness and rapid response
An up-to-date guide for Georgia immigrant families in case family members are detained or deported:
An eight-point guide to preparing a family emergency response plan in case of deportation:
A short guide to how arrests and convictions separate families:
Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
A February 2017 report finds that the 47,000 DACA recipients and those immediately eligible for DACA are vital to Georgia’s economy. “Deporting the 47,000 young Georgians either enrolled or immediately eligible for DACA could shrink the state’s economy by an estimated $1.7 billion a year,” says the study.
GBPI Immigration Report GBPI Immigration Report 2
Center for American Progress
A July 2017 report says that ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade and would remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the nation’s economy. In Georgia, the study estimated that annual cost of removing DACA workers would be short of $1.1 billion.
United We Dream
An October 2017 study offers a detailed portrait of DACA recipients.
Center for American Progress
A June 2017 study looks at how DACA is making positive contributions to the lives of young immigrants by improving access to opportunities in higher education and in the workforce.
An August 2017 survey of 3,063 DACA recipients in 46 states shows that 91% of respondents are currently employed and that 69% moved to a job with better pay after receiving DACA. The survey also finds that among respondents:
- 97 percent are currently employed or enrolled in school
the average hourly wage of respondents increased by 69 percent since receiving DACA, rising from $10.29 per hour to $17.46 per hour
- 65% reported purchasing their first car
- 16% purchased their first home after receiving DACA
- 45% are currently in school, and among these, 72% are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher
- Among those who are currently in school, a robust 94 percent said that, because of DACA, “I pursued educational opportunities that I previously could not.”
Meet these Georgia Dreamers
Marie Andrea Cruzado, 23
Youth program coordinator
From Lima, Peru
Recently graduated from Oglethorpe University and wants to pursue a master’s in public affairs.
“I’m a product of Gwinnett County. I’m a product of Georgia. Georgia gave me all the resources for me to grow into who I am today. It’s only reasonable that I keep working in this community so I can give back to the state. It is my turn to give back to the community that also helped me. My passion aligns with the needs of the Latino population.”
Yehimi Adriana Cambrón, 25
High school art teacher
From Morelia, Michoacán, México
Agnes Scott College graduate who served for two years as an elementary school educator through Teach for America.
“The narrative has long been that undocumented people are those who clean and build and contribute through manual labor. Because of DACA, America has gotten an opportunity to see other narratives… that we are capable of becoming doctors, teachers and professionals, in addition to the contributions we’ve made to this country historically.
I’m an art teacher at the high school I graduated from 7 years ago, and I’m teaching what I love. I’m emotionally and professionally invested within and beyond the classroom. This is my service to my community and my country, and that service is now being challenged by the threat of DACA being terminated.
Leo López, 22
Business development consultant
From Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico…
Graduated from Oglethorpe University in May.
“I came to this country when I was a toddler and have no recollection of Mexico. All I’ve known is Atlanta and growing up here. I know 100% that my roots are Mexican but my heart is also in ATL. I want to be an entrepreneur and would like a future here.”
Jaime Rangel, 26
Part-time college student majoring in finance
From Hidalgo, Mexico
Works for a governmental affairs and public policy firm while going to college in Dalton.
“Georgia is my home. I really care about my state. I want to help push law and ordinances that make our state the No. 1 to do business. I want to help bring good jobs and expand health care to rural areas. I want to go to law school and work in government affairs and public policy. I just want to help my state grow and prosper.”