NEW YORK (Nov. 22, 2016) — After the Nov. 8 presidential election, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) remains as committed as ever to fight for the rights of Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrant communities in the face of the new administration’s proposal to deport millions of undocumented individuals.
This could threaten the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which was announced by President Obama in June 2012 through an executive action and can be ended by the next president. Under the DACA program, certain undocumented individuals who came to this country before the age of 16 are provided temporary relief from deportation and employment authorization.
“Although the future of the 2012 DACA initiative is uncertain at this time, AALDEF will provide free consultations to Asian immigrant youth who are seeking to renew their deferred action and work authorization under the original DACA program,” said Annie Wang, AALDEF staff attorney. “We also plan to offer legal screenings to individuals who would have qualified for the new DACA to determine if other forms of relief are available to them.”
AALDEF is currently providing the following guidance:
• Individuals filing an initial DACA request, who were formerly not known to the government, increase their exposure to potential enforcement actions that the new administration decides to take in the future. [Note that according to one source, it’s taking USCIS more than nine months to process initial DACA requests.]
• Current DACA recipients seeking to renew their deferred action and employment authorization are unlikely to subject themselves to additional risks by submitting renewal requests at this time. However, they may not have their applications processed in time before the new administration ends DACA and could lose their filing fee in that event.
• DACA recipients who have been granted or are seeking advance permission (known as advance parole) to travel outside the U.S. should ensure that they return to the country before January 20, 2017, the date the new administration takes office.
“As a national civil rights organization that advocates for fair immigration policies, we continue to strongly support the president’s immigration actions that have provided temporary protection from deportation and employment authorization for eligible individuals,” said Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director. “The DACA initiative has transformed the lives of thousands of undocumented immigrants of AAPI descent out of a total of almost 1.5 million undocumented Asian immigrants in this country.”
NOTE: Individuals who believe they would have qualified for the original DACA initiative or DACA recipients who are seeking renewals should go to reputable attorneys and nonprofit legal service providers to see if they qualify for other forms of immigration relief. They should also be wary of individuals claiming that they can help get work authorization for a fee without applying for a benefit.