A new site developed by Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) and Pro Bono Net to help young immigrants brought to this country as children apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has assisted thousands of people since its August launch.
Own the Dream or Únete al Sueño, the Spanish companion site, was developed in collaboration with United We Dream, the largest national network of youth-led immigrants’ rights organizations, and many leading national immigration legal services organizations. The goal of the site is to provide the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants with information and self-help tools that are easily accessible and understandable.
In June, the Obama administration announced that it would start accepting applications from young undocumented immigrants, or “DREAMers”, who were brought to the U.S. as children. It is estimated that 1.7 million undocumented young people could potentially benefit from this program. DACA gives a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before age 16, are in school, high school graduates or military veterans, and meet certain other criteria. The government began accepting requests for DACA on August 15, 2012. By mid-October, nearly 5,000 applications had been approved, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
“Own the Dream ensures that potential applicants have access to the information they need to understand their eligibility and make informed decisions about whether to apply. The site brings together many of the country’s leading immigrants’ rights organizations to increase access and reduce barriers for DREAMers,” said Matthew Burnett, Director of IAN. “The program puts technology to good use, empowering young people who may be eligible for deferred action to play a more active and engaged role in the process.”
By the end of September, the Own the Dream websites had more than 72,000 visits and 240,000 page views. Key features of the Own the Dream site are an online self-screening tool for DACA applicants so they can determine their eligibility and a searchable directory of listings for free or low-cost nonprofit immigration legal services providers in all 50 states. More than 13,000 individuals have already accessed the eligibility screening tool.
Own the Dream also features a calendar of community events, including information sessions and application workshops, as well as news about the Deferred Action program and frequently asked questions. As part of its efforts, Own the Dream is also conducting an SMS/Text Messaging campaign.