LOS ANGELES – (June 24, 2016) — Leaders and members of organizations serving Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrants gathered to express their deep disappointment at the Supreme Court’s inaction on the President’s proposed expansion of immigration relief programs. Announced in November 2014, these programs – the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and an expansion of the original Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – would have benefited an estimated 65,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrants in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
“When I first heard the news, I was frozen with disappointment and loss of hope,” said Bo Daraphant, an intern at Korean Resource Center (KRC) Los Angeles, who would have personally benefited from the expanded DACA program. “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity since 2012 and again in 2014. I had such high hopes that one day I would be able to reunite with my family in Thailand, work and support my family here, and pursue my dreams and a career. I’m frustrated to know that our community will continue to live in fear with lack of opportunity because of today’s decision, but I also know that we’ll move forward and use this as a motivation to keep going.”
Although the Court’s decision blocks implementation of the new DAPA and expanded DACA programs, it does not affect the original DACA program. Created in 2012, the original DACA program offers eligible young immigrants a two-year reprieve from deportation, work authorization and a social security number. It does not offer a path to citizenship. [Eligibility information here.] Nationally, an estimated 152,000 AAPI immigrants are eligible for the original DACA program, including 22,000 in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Only 20 percent of eligible AAPIs have applied for DACA, compared to an estimated 80 percent of eligible Latino immigrants.
“Thankfully, the Supreme Court’s decision does not affect the original DACA program,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, which has assisted with over 2,500 DACA applications since August 2012. “There are thousands of eligible undocumented immigrants who have yet to seek DACA. If you believe you or a family member is eligible, we encourage you to speak to our organization or another trusted legal or community non-profit.”
“The deadlock is a setback for immigrant families, but we remind community members that this case does not impact the current DACA program announced in 2012,” said Joon Bang, director of Korean Resource Center (KRC) Los Angeles, which has processed nearly 2,000 DACA applications for Korean American community members. “While we fight to right this wrong inflicted on our families, we encourage eligible community members who have not yet applied for the current DACA program to enroll in the program for themselves, their families, and for the millions who are counting on them to set a precedent by demonstrating the power of this deferred action program.”
For immigrants who are undocumented or out of status, Advancing Justice offers free immigration screenings to evaluate individual cases for available immigration relief, including the original DACA program, and free assistance in applying for or renewing DACA status. In addition, Advancing Justice can provide information and assistance with other important programs for undocumented immigrants, such as drivers’ licenses (AB 60) and Medi-Cal for low-income undocumented youth (SB 75). See details below.
“With the Supreme Court’s split decision, we expect confusion over what immigration programs are available for undocumented immigrants,” said Aman Thind, director of Advancing Justice-LA’s immigration project. “We encourage immigrants with questions to contact a trusted legal or community organization for advice. Be wary of unscrupulous individuals, including lawyers, who may promise you they can win your case or who asks you to sign a blank form.”
Looking forward, immigrant rights advocates urged impacted community members to join the fight for both the expanded DACA and DAPA programs as well as the larger battle to reform the nation’s broken immigration system.
“The Supreme Court’s 4-4 decision is clearly a call to action,” declared Anthony Ng, immigrant rights policy advocate for Advancing Justice-LA and a member of ASPIRE-LA, an AAPI undocumented youth organizing group. “We must continue to fight for the rights of the millions of immigrants who continue to live in the shadows, like members of my own family. The November election will be critical – the next President will name the ninth Supreme Court justice and the next Congress could potentially move forward an immigration bill. We will not stop fighting for our families.”
Free immigration screenings and DACA application assistance is available from Advancing Justice-LA as follows (appointments required):
- Los Angeles – 3 regular immigration workshops (every Tuesday from 2 to 5 pm at the Karsh Center in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, every Thursday from 3 to 6 pm in our downtown Los Angeles office, and every third Wednesday from 2 to 5 pm in the San Gabriel Valley)
- Orange County – individual assistance by appointment