DACA Recipients, Allies Band Together in Los Angeles for Country’s First-ever Immigrant Youth-led Hackathon

Dozens of Dreamers Came Together Over 36 Hours to Build Tools and Apps to Empower, Encourage Immigrants and Americans Impacted by the U.S.’ Broken Immigration System

LOS ANGELES, CA – This weekend, roughly 40 Dreamers from across the United States convened in Los Angeles for the country’s first-ever immigrant youth-led hackathon, just days after President Trump decided to end the DACA program. Called “UndocuHacks 2017,” the event brought together professionals in the tech industry, community leaders, advocates, and others personally affected by immigration policies for 36 hours of consecutive hacking to develop digital tools for protection, education, and organizing.

Participants helped create tools to address our country’s broken immigration system, assist with deportation defense and fuel rapid response efforts, and devised ways to make health services more accessible to the immigrant community. Among the tools created were an app to connect volunteers with immigration-servicing organizations and an app to help with DACA renewals. Another team also created a tool to connect immigrants to educational scholarships, legal aid and health aid.

The hackathon was intended to provide an opportunity for attendees to share their skills and develop technology tools of protection, education, healing, and empowerment. Sixteen mentors — all entrepreneurs, tech leaders or angel investors — were also on site to provide assistance and support every step of the way to help bring developed ideas into reality.

The hackathon was held just days after President Trump decided to eliminate the DACA program, which will cost the United States $460 billion in GDP loss over the next decade and comes with far-reaching moral consequences. No new DACA applications are being accepted, but DACA recipients whose renewals expire on or before March 5 can submit renewal applications through October 5.

The hackathon was sponsored by UndocuMedia, FWD.us, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC), Mi Mentor, UCLA Dream Resource Center, Techqueria, Codesmith, SUBB and Enplug.

Participant quotes include:

“I am enormously grateful for the impact DACA beneficiaries and undocumented youth have made in my own life and to the U.S. economy. Dreamers start businesses at twice the rate of the public as a whole, add billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, and deserve the political support to let them continue this remarkable contribution. Congress needs to act quickly and pass a Dream Act to allow these young people to contribute to this country permanently. ” — Will Sentance, Founder and CEO, Codesmith

“UndocuHacks2017 is intended to bring people from the tech industry, leaders in the undocumented community and allies together to create technology tools of empowerment, resistance and healing for the rest of the immigrant population, particularly at a time when immigrants are being attacked. We must be proactive in leveraging technology to protect the most vulnerable population and to demonstrate that we have the power to change the status quo, and to look after each other.” — Justino Mora, Co-Founder, UndocuMedia

“UndocuHacks was intended to help participants, predominantly DACA recipients, utilize their tech skills to help advance the fight for common sense immigration reform. Our goal was to bring together the most talented designers, developers and programmers from around the country to find solutions to some of our country’s most pressing immigration issues. By the end of the weekend, we developed projects that will continue to help us defend, protect and support all immigrants, regardless of national origin and status.” — Giancarla Rojas-Mendoza, University Program Associate, FWD.us

“In such a critical time as now, it is important that immigrant youth be at the forefront of developing solutions that address issues impacting immigrant youth and the broader immigrant community. We must work collectively to protect, empower, and achieve justice for our immigrant community.” — Diego Sepúlveda, Interim Director, Dream Resource Center at UCLA Labor Center

“UndocuHacks 2017 is an opportunity to unite with the undocumented community, and help it defend itself and be empowered at a time when we are facing an onslaught of attacks. I’m happy to be here to represent the undocu-trans community and the undocu-queer community, and to connect and heal with other undocumented individuals from around the country. UndocuHacks is a foundation of a new tech strategy toward immigrant rights that has never been done before, and will help us prepare for the obstacles we are facing now and will face decades on.” — Ximena Ospina Vargas, DACA recipient, hackathon participant and student at Columbia University

“I came to the United States from Portugal at the age of 10 months. My parents were entrepreneurial and came to start a business in pursuit of the American Dream. The work authorization I earned through DACA gave me the opportunity to help my parents purchase a family home and help build the family business. Without DACA or a Dream Act to protect me from deportation, I’m much more uncertain about my future. There are 800,000 human lives at stake, and ending DACA is both a moral crisis and economic crisis.” — Rodrigo Pimentel, DACA recipient and hackathon participant

“For me, the immigration reform movement is personal. As someone who has close family and friends who are directly impacted by our broken immigration system, I cannot afford to stand on the sidelines. UndocuHacks is an opportunity for us to not only connect folks who are already participating in the immigration movement, but to bring in new voices who can help us get across the finish line. Now, more than ever, we need Congress to come together and finally pass a permanent legislative solution that Dreamers and their families so desperately need. I encourage all my peers in the tech community to join us in this fight. ” — Jesus Loya, mentor and entrepreneur

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