San Diego deferred action center busy with backlog of transcripts

It may not be the mad rush they had last month when they first opened, but at the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Center in Old Town, they are still playing catch-up.

“We’re really working and processing about 45 applications a day,” said said Beatriz Fernandez, program manager for the DACA Center at San Diego Unified School District’s Ballard Center. “We have plenty of walk-ins and we have plenty of phone calls.”

Oscar Duarte decided to wait it out to avoid the crowds and it has paid off.

“When you call they give you your appointment and then you come in the next day or two days later,” said the 19-year-old undocumented student. “And then in less than 10 minutes you’re on your way out.”

Still, there have been hiccups along the way. The DACA center started out with only two people overseeing the process, forcing many to wait up to two weeks for their transcripts.

“It’s an hourly position that these individuals have,” explained Fernandez. “So sometimes they get a different job and so we have to train someone new.”

The staff is required to be bilingual. They also must learn the system in a short amount of time. Now a month since the center opened, six workers are busy clearing a back log of applications from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

But despite the effort it takes to get a certified transcript, for Duarte it is worth the wait.

“I can actually help my family by getting a job and then I want to continue school,” he said. “So that would be a big help for me.”

The DACA center initially agreed to handle transcript requests until November. However, due to the demand, they are going to stay open until December 14. The school district anticipates spending around $45,000 on the center.

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