Waco: BU relaunches DACA Renewal Clinic as immigration reform stalls

WACO, Texas (KWTX) U.S. senators have been negotiating immigration reform for months, but a long-awaited bipartisan deal failed to pass Thursday afternoon.

The proposed legislation would have created a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

In the meantime, Baylor Law School has relaunched its DACA Renewal Assistance Program for those who need help with renewing their DACA status.

Starting Thursday, the Baylor Law Immigration Clinic will open every Thursday evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and offers free assistance for those whose status expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016 or is set to expire within the next five months.

The clinic has already helped more than three hundred residents with completing DACA renewal forms since 2012, but faculty says immigration law needs a more permanent solution.

Law Professor Laura Hernandez says immigration reform has been a roller coaster ride for those whose lives depend on it.

"When the bipartisan bills seem to be really on the verge- it's really gratifying," she says.

"Within the next day or next hour when it's dead, then it's really disheartening."

She believes there is room for improvement in the current system which requires the undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to file a renewal application every two years.

"Our ultimate hope is that Congress will be able to pass some form of the Dream Act so the DACA card holders can keep legal status," says Hernandez.

Alicia Alvarado, a second-year Baylor law student, plans to specialize in immigration law.

While an undergraduate, she volunteered for the program and continues to assist by filling out forms for local Dreamers.

"It's very rewarding seeing these Dreamers walk out of here with their paperwork all filled out," she says.

"This is a big service project that allows us to give back to the community- not only Waco but our surrounding communities that also need this service," she says.

Although the help is free, filers still have to provide the $495 fee for the renewal application.

Anyone interested in the program is encouraged to call and make an appointment.

The Baylor Law Clinic's phone number is (254) 710-4244

Walk-ins will be accepted if time allows.