County of Santa Clara Fellowship Program Provides Career Development Opportunities for DACA Recipients

Eligible DACA Recipients Invited to Apply by March 1, 2021

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— The County of Santa Clara is offering the New Americans Fellowship program to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients living, working, or going to school in Santa Clara County. The New Americans Fellowship (NAF), a 10-week leadership program that runs from June through September 2021, offers a stipend of up to $10,000 to cover living expenses. The application is available at and is due by the end of the day on March 1, 2021.

“The New Americans Fellowship brings to our organization bold, impactful thinkers who enrich so many of the County’s safety-net programs,” said Chief Operating Officer Miguel Márquez, who has had the privilege of working with Fellows on their projects. “We look forward to learning from the personal, innovative perspectives of our 2021 NAF cohort.”

Fellows receive mentoring and career pipeline support from County leaders and from various mentoring County departments. As part of the Fellowship, participants gain transferable skills and professional development in the areas of research and policy analysis, public communication, group facilitation, and project management. They are also trained to serve as community ambassadors to improve and expand immigrant integration.

“The New Americans Fellowship is an opportunity for DREAMers to gain leadership and career experience within Santa Clara County. This fellowship offers more than technical skills – it supports networking with mentors and with other Fellows who share similar experiences,” said Zélica Rodríguez-Deams, Office of Immigrant Relations (OIR) Director. “We have seen Fellows earn gainful employment, offer important recommendations to improve County processes and programs, and learn about how the County comprehensively serves the immigrant community. More importantly, we have been inspired by the Fellows as they continue to learn, grow, and succeed, while honoring their families’ sacrifice and perseverance.”

The Office of Immigrant Relations (OIR) is committed to building a welcoming, equitable, and just county that supports the full potential of all residents. Within the framework of Welcoming Communities, the County created the New Americans Fellowship program for DACA recipients with skills and tools to serve as ambassadors of change and inclusion in the community.

About the Fellowship

  • 10-week program between June 2021 – September 2021.
  • Up to $10,000 stipend to cover living expenses.
  • Fellows’ projects for the 10 weeks typically require full-time commitment.
  • Fellows work on a research and/or community engagement project focused on immigrant integration.
  • Fellows are assigned to engage regularly and communicate with various County departments and County leaders during the fellowship.
  • Mentoring departments and leading County staff will provide mentorship support to Fellows to understand the County’s safety-net programs and to apply an immigrant community lens to all projects.
  • Professional development experience in the context of County government.
  • Engage Fellows in developing research and policy recommendations.

Fellows Will

  • Gain knowledge about County government operations
  • Receive mentoring and career development from County leaders and various departments
  • Develop a deeper understanding about safety-net programs
  • Conduct independent research and develop policy recommendations
  • Advance the County’s mission to build a more equitable society in the context of social justice


  • Application Period Opens on February 1, 2021
  • Application Deadline: March 1, 2021
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation Deadline: March 8, 2021
  • Notification of Selection: April 6, 2021


  • Up to $10,000 stipend to cover living expenses
  • Mentorship from subject matter experts
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Exposure to local government
  • Professional skills such as:
    • Research and policy analysis 
    • Public communication and group facilitation
    • Knowledge of intergovernmental processes
    • Project support and management
    • County software​ and technical support
    • Experience to serve as ambassadors to improve and expand immigrant integration

Eligibility Requirements (All Must Apply)

  • Current recipient of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals(DACA) with work permit* eligibility through the entire length of the fellowship (June 2021 - September 2021)
  • Employment authorization card
  • Currently working, living, or attending school in Santa Clara County
  • Commit to 10 weeks between June 2021 - September 2021
  • Undergraduate or graduate student, or recent college graduate
  • Desire to be involved in social justice for the immigrant community

*A current DACA recipient is an individual with a current grant of deferred action under the U.S. government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

How to Apply

  • Complete the application at is March 1, 2021)
  • Provide 1-2 letters of recommendation from individuals or organizations you have worked or collaborated with that can provide insight to your public service activities and leadership skills (deadline for recommendation letters is March 8, 2021)
  • College transcript(s)
  • Analytical or other academic writing sample (3-5 pages long)

NAF Fellowship contact:

Zélica Rodríguez-Deams
(669) 235-1452
[email protected] 

Contributions Made by DACA Recipients

California has the largest immigrant population in the U.S. and, as a result, has the largest DACA population of the 50 U.S. states. The top five metropolitan areas with the largest DACA populations in California are Los Angeles, Riverside, San Francisco-Oakland, San Diego, and San Jose. There are 8,780 DACA recipients in the San Jose Metropolitan area. According to the Center for American Progress (CAP), the DACA population of the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area contributed $187,500,000 in federal taxes and $79,000,000 in state and local taxes in 2017.

What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

DACA is an administrative relief from deportation. The purpose of DACA is to protect from deportation eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States when they were children. DACA grants young undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and a work permit. The program expires after two years and is subject to renewal. There are about 800,000 DACA recipients nationwide.

DACA Today

According to USCIS:

“In compliance with an order of a United States District Court, effective December 7, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is:

Accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;

Accepting DACA renewal requests based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;

Accepting applications for advance parole documents based on the terms of the DACA policy prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;

Extending one-year grants of deferred action under DACA to two years; and

Extending one-year employment authorization documents under DACA to two years.

USCIS will take appropriate steps to provide evidence of the one-year extensions of deferred action and employment authorization documents under DACA to individuals who were issued documentation on or after July 28, 2020, with a one-year validity period under the defunct policy.

DHS will comply with the order while it remains in effect, but DHS may seek relief from the order.

This page provides information on requesting consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). You may request DACA for the first time or renew your existing period of DACA if it is expiring.”

Legal experts are also monitoring State of Texas v. Nielsen DACA case, which was heard on December 22, 2020. As we await the decision, it should be noted that that this case could alter the program once again.


The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, California, making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.

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Media Contacts: María Leticia Gómez, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119, [email protected]; Zélica Rodríguez, Office of Immigrant Relations, 669-235-1452, [email protected]

Posted: January 28, 2021


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