Push begins to help Park City students apply for DACA protections | ParkRecord.com

Push begins to help Park City students apply for DACA protections

Effort aims to spark annual tradition of fundraising

Moe Hickey, a former Park City school board member, is organizing a push to raise $20,000 to help undocumented students apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He says response so far to the effort, which could provide more than 20 students with benefits ranging from work authorization to protection from deportation, has been tremendous.

Moe Hickey believes every student should be given a chance to succeed.

That's why Hickey, a former Park City school board member who is still active in education efforts, is spearheading an effort to raise $20,000 this spring to help undocumented students apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA, implemented under President Obama, protects children who entered the U.S. under the age of 16 from deportation and allows them to apply for work authorization, Social Security numbers and state financial aid for college.

Hickey said he got the idea after several members of the community asked him what they could do to help following a series of local incidents earlier this year that shook the Latino community. The money, he added, will be raised through the Park City Education Foundation, and the effort will hopefully establish an annual tradition.

"We really want it to be very grassroots," he said. "We don't want it to take away from anything else. We just want to say, 'Let's get this in place and get these kids supported just to improve their odds of success next year and the year after when they enter into college.'" The response has been tremendous."

According to school officials, DACA has proven critical to undocumented students from Park City since it began in 2012. But Hickey said the cost can be prohibitive — there is a $495 application charge, and legal fees to help navigate the cumbersome process can run another several hundred dollars.

Students who can't afford applying for DACA miss out on the benefits it provides, which can be as simple as allowing them to get jobs to pay their way through college. Hickey is hopeful the money raised will be able to provide DACA certification for more than 20 students.

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"I look at those kids and the struggles their families go through and the work the kids are putting in to get to a point where they can go to Salt Lake Community College or Utah State University or wherever," Hickey said. "But without that DACA card, so much of that falls apart. It's not necessarily getting into college — it's being able to work and pay their way through college."

Eric Esquivel, the Park City School District's Latino community outreach specialist, said the district is delighted to see the community get behind the effort. DACA, he said, can go a long way to providing a better future for the students who attain it.

"It gives those students and their families a little more peace of mind," he said. "They know there's a program in place where they can study and go on to college in peace."

Donations can be made to the Park City Education Foundation. Hickey can be contacted for more information at mhickey@parkcityinstitute.com