WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 16, 2017) — South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian racial justice and civil rights organization, condemns the Trump administration’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), an Obama-era program that would have enabled undocumented parents of US-citizen children to qualify for temporary protection from deportation and work authorization.
While the program was stalled by the courts and never implemented, the Trump administration’s June 15 memo rescinding DAPA has officially dashed the hopes of an estimated 3.5 million undocumented parents who would have benefited from the program by remaining with their families.
“Day after day, the Trump administration is perfecting the process of terrorizing immigrants,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “From ‘Muslim Bans’ to calls for border walls to yesterday’s announcement to rescind DAPA, President Trump has made it clear that he is committed to criminalizing immigrants and placing as many barriers as possible between immigrants and their families.”
The June 15 memo indicated that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a 2012 program introduced by President Obama that has served as a gateway for 800,000 immigrant youth to work and go to school in the United States, would remain in effect. This morning, however, the administration quickly walked back from its statement, noting “There has been no final determination made about the DACA program.” It’s clear this administration is committed to targeting and deporting those with current DACA status, as evidenced by the deportation of Juan Manuel Montes in April in California by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies are of great concern to South Asian Americans, who make up the fastest-growing undocumented immigrant population in the U.S. Nearly 500,000 Indians alone and countless more South Asian Americans are undocumented. Over 40% of these individuals could have benefited from expanded DACA and DAPA.
Unfortunately, the President’s commitment to anti-immigrant policies has been echoed in state policies like Texas SB 4, which recently passed the Texas state legislature and mirrors the Arizona SB 1070 “Show Me Your Papers” law that allowed state and local law enforcement to act as immigration enforcement agents and punished cities for declaring themselves “sanctuary” jurisdictions. SB 1070 was ultimately repealed after being largely struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2012.
Yesterday’s DAPA announcement also proves that while the courts are an important line of defense against predatory policies and to protect our constitutional guarantees, they cannot be our only avenue for change. Had our elected officials passed comprehensive immigration reform earlier, we may not find ourselves in such desperation to protect our communities against deportation. It is high time our legislative branch stepped up to protect our communities. We need just and inclusive immigration reform, today.
In January, when asked whether undocumented Americans should worry about his administration’s policies, President Trump stated, “They shouldn’t be very worried. They are here illegally. They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart.” Our communities certainly do not have a place in the President’s heart or vision of America. In response, our hearts must continue beating in resistance against the current and insistent wave of anti-immigrant policies.
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that elevates the voices and perspectives of South Asian individuals and organizations to build a more just and inclusive society in the United States. SAALT is the coordinating entity of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), a network of 58 organizations that serve, organize, and advocate on behalf of the South Asian community across the country.