LOS ANGELES (June 28, 2013) — The Asian Youth Center (AYC) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (formerly known as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center) are partnering to provide community outreach and education on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented youth who live in the San Gabriel Valley. Located in the heart of San Gabriel, AYC has been providing social services since 1989.
DACA just celebrated its one-year anniversary. Created under an executive order signed by President Obama on June 15, 2012, the program protects undocumented youth from deportation and allows them to apply for legal work permits. Both benefits can be renewed after two years for an additional two-year period. With a grant of DACA status also comes the ability to apply for social security numbers, California I.D. cards, and driver’s licenses.
An estimated 1.76 million undocumented youth nationally are likely eligible for the program. Of that number, one in ten is Asian. This estimate seems confirmed by the latest statistics released from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which indicate that South Korea and the Philippines are among the top ten countries of origin listed in DACA applications. However, a recent report released by Professor Tom Wong of the University of California, San Diego, revealed that out of the first 150,000 DACA applications, less than 1 percent were Chinese, despite there being a significant number of Chinese DREAMers who qualify for the program. For this reason, AYC and Advancing Justice – Los Angeles will also be hosting free legal workshops, for those youth who qualify for DACA, in the near future.
It is important to note that there has been no announced deadline for DACA, and the program will continue until comprehensive immigration reform is properly addressed. The public should beware of “notarios” and other unaccredited immigration preparers who misinform people by stating that there is a deadline for the program. Again, there is no deadline for DACA and eligible undocumented youth are encouraged to apply.
Over 290,000 undocumented youth have received legal work permits through the DACA program, including Marcela Zhou, one of its first recipients. Zhou is of Chinese descent and was raised in Mexicali. She came to the United States with her sister to seek better education opportunities. More than six years ago, Zhou’s father and sister had their papers revoked because their visas were not updated when they were inspected crossing the border. Since then, she has never returned home.
“Unfortunately, a series of events separated our family and I have not physically seen my father and sister since 2007, “ Zhou said. “Despite the hardship to my family, I went on to graduate from Calexico High School as the valedictorian of my class, and then attended Imperial Valley College, from which I transferred to UC San Diego in 2010. DACA was announced the day before my graduation from UCSD, and I am fortunate enough to have qualified. Life has definitely changed since then and I am currently working as a clinical research coordinator while also taking steps to pursue my dream to become a physician.”
Advancing Justice – Los Angeles operates the following toll-free hotlines that San Gabriel Valley residents can call to learn more about DACA:
• English: (888) 349-9695
• Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese): (800) 520-2356
• Khmer: (800) 867-3126
• Korean: (800) 867-3640
• Thai: (800) 914-9583
• Vietnamese: (800) 267-7395
Asian Americans Advancing Justice: LA is the nation’s largest Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander legal and civil rights organization and serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year.