WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 21, 2014) — OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, a national membership-driven organization dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), commends the President’s executive action plans on immigration reform.
On Thursday, November 20, 2014, President Obama announced his executive action plans to fix the current immigration system. Highlights of the plans include the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), as well as the creation of a new Deferred Action program for undocumented parents of United States citizens and legal permanent residents. The expansion of DACA would eliminate the age cap; increase work authorization from two to three years; and change the date of entry requirement from June 15, 2007 to before January 1, 2010. Estimates suggested that around five million individuals will be able to gain work authorization through either the new program or the expansion of DACA.
“This is a momentous announcement and the result of years of hard work that Asian Pacific American and other advocates have dedicated to immigration reform,” said Miriam Yeung, OCA National Vice President of Public Affairs. “We thank the President for listening to the many voices from our communities and providing many in our families the opportunity for relief that House leadership has consistently denied us. Our preliminary information has indicated that at least 400,000 APA parents will be able to stay and work legally under the new program.”
Although the President’s plans highlight actions that will provide five million people a legal status, six million individuals will still be unable to obtain status through either program. Additionally, the President’s plans include, but are not limited to, an increase in border security; the replacement of secure communities with a new enforcement program called the Priority Enforcement Program; and an opportunity for spouses of employment visa holders to work, so long as they have an approved application for legal permanent residency.
“We commend the President for taking a bold step forward on immigration reform. Many undocumented APA immigrants currently living in the shadow of our broken immigration system will be able to rest a little easier,” said Ken Lee, OCA National Acting CEO. “But we are disappointed that his plan does not outline specific steps to address the family immigration visa backlogs. Additionally, we are cautious of the inclusion of another federal security program that could perpetuate racial profiling among local and state law enforcement, along with the undefined options to opt out of the program among local and state officials. However, these plans are a good first step, and we will continue to advocate for a permanent fix to our broken immigration system through Congressional legislation.”