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'I Am Floored': Minn. Att'y Starts Fundraising Effort For DACA Filing Fees

By Sloane Martin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- As the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is being debated in Washington, recipients here in Minnesota -- as well as advocates and activists -- are taking action in the hopes of cementing their statuses.

Immigration attorney Kara Lynum is pretty new to Twitter, so when she put out the call for donations to cover DACA filing fees during a critical time, she had no idea people would raise thousands of dollars -- $10,500 as of noon Friday, according to the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

"I am floored and absolutely amazed at people's kindness," she said Friday. "I think people really want to help, and this is a really tangible way (to do that). Ten dollars goes a long way in this because these young people, many of them are struggling financially and they have a lot of uncertainty in their lives about this program and didn't know if they would even be able to stay in the United States long term. So having a stranger come forward and say, 'I'll help you,' that sort of kindness really moves me."

It's a grassroots fundraising effort to help DACA recipients come up with the $495 filing fee to renew their status. What started with a single donor after a Lynum radio appearance, has grown to a social media campaign that's continued to expand in recent days. At least four DACA filing fees have come from Twitter alone, Lynum says.

This all started after federal judge in California last week reopened applications, but the litigation continues all the way to the Supreme Court.

"This is a mad dash to get everyone renewed as quickly as possible before the window closes, and we don't know when that's going to be," she said.

DACA is a work permit program that gives people who came illegally to the U.S. as children a driver's license and social security number. Lynum says many of her clients have no memory of or family in the countries they were born in, so they fear the possibility of deportation. She says it's hard for many of them to come up with that amount of money under such short notice.

"I like to think that DACA recipients are just our friends and neighbors," Lynum said. "There are 6,300 DACA recipients here in Minnesota. They're just young people living their lives, some of them are married to U.S. citizens, many of them have U.S. citizen children. They have mortgages, they have lives, and the termination of this program devastated them because it gave them permission to work and have a driver's license, which gave them this ability to sort of lift themselves out of the shadows they had previous been in before 2012."

Filing fee donations in full or half, are being accepted through the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota's website with the subject "DACA filing fee." Since this came together very quickly, Lynum says smaller donations are being polled through Venmo, username @LindsayMPLS.

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