A group of immigrants, known as DREAMers, hold flowers as they listen to a news conference to kick off a new program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles on August 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Funding the Dream: Organizations around the country help DREAMers with deferred action fees

For many DREAMers who find themselves cautiously jubilant about the president’s new deferred action immigration policy, one sticking point has continually been mentioned as an obstacle.

The $465 fee.

In an effort to remove this impediment, organizations across the country continue to spring up with the mission of raising money for the fees or giving loans to the undocumented youth.

Author and liberal activist Tony Diaz partnered with Jacob Monty, a Mexican-American lawyer who has bundled and raised money for George W. Bush and John McCain, to co-found Protectors of the Dream, a Houston-based non-profit which has raised $80,000 in two weeks for eligible youth.

“This has been a student movement for over a decade,” Diaz says in energized tones. “But now they get to see that the business community is behind them as well.”

The $80,000 is an astronomical amount in such a short period of time and will help 160 eligible students. The youth should apply by August 31 – the process includes an essay — and the first round of grants will be released to them by September 17

Protectors of the Dream Grant Application

Monty says that in this battered, fractured and polarized political environment, there aren’t many times where people come together in a bipartisan manner to address an issue they feel rises above petty partisan squabbles.

“I’m a Republican activist, so Tony and I don’t agree on a whole lot,” Monty says. “This is something that is not a party issue. Regrettably, Republicans are on the wrong side of this thing. The business community is embracing it.”

In North Carolina, The Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU) has taken it upon themselves to help deferred action eligible-youth as well. They’ve created a “Dreamer Loan” to keep students who qualify from being left out because they don’t have the money to pay the fee.

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Luis Pastor, CEO of LCCU, has been a staple in the Latino community in North Carolina with a credit union that counts more than 54,000 members. He and his business see the “Dreamer Loan” as a way to continue this relationship with the community.

“Talking to families on Friday, they said they wouldn’t have been able to access deferred action without this type of support,” says Erika Bell, vice president of strategies and services for LCCU. “They don’t have $500 in savings so it would have been a hardship for many people.”

So far the credit union has given 60 loans. To qualify, a young person only needs to be a member of the credit union and if they’re under 18 they can go with their parents. No credit history is necessary.

Public Interest Projects, Inc. (PIP) is a public charity that created The Fund for Dreamers. The organization is collecting funds from across the country and will distribute them to local immigrant organizations, which will then dole them out.

What we heard from advocates and donors was that a lot of Americans wanted to donate,” says PIP communications director Robert Bray. “They did not know undocumented immigrants themselves, but this was a story reaching them and touching them.”

Bray says people are inspired by the stories of dreamers. “Suddenly there is a new narrative on immigration that is not about Arizona and Sheriff Joe Arpaio and illegals invading the border.”

Monty, the conservative lawyer from Texas says he doesn’t even consider people like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and controversial congressman Lamar Smith to be Republicans. He calls them nativists.

“This sends a strong message to nativists like Brewer that the business community is behind this,” Monty says.

“The business community is clamoring for this. Hooking up with Tony is a way to get the left and right together on this to send a message to Arizona that Texas and most of the country is much different.”

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