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Why Aren’t Most Asians Applying for Deferred Action?

This Friday (August 15, 2014) marks the second anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), only 55 percent of the 1.2 million youth who are eligible for deferred action have applied for this status. Around half of the eligible undocumented youth have not yet filed applications. Reports also show that more than 62 percent of Mexicans have applied for this status while only a quarter of eligible Filipinos and Koreans have done so.

Under the deferred action program, undocumented youth who got into the U.S. as kids and who meet the DACA age, residence and education requirements can win the right to live and work legally in the U.S. for a two year period. This program is only meant for the undocumented youth between ages 15 and 31.

Reports show that Asians show less interest in applying for DACA while Latin Americans have applied for this status in more numbers. Some are afraid of signing up for this program and revealing their immigration status. They feel it is safer to remain in the shadows. Margie McHugh, director of MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, says that the reason why Filipinos and Koreans show less interest in applying for deferred action but Latinos are applying in more numbers is because a vast majority of Latinos are being deported every day. Eligible Latino immigrants apply for this status as they do not want to be removed from the country.

Around 76 percent of the estimated 1.2 million youth eligible for deferred action status are Latinos whereas only ten percent of them are Asians. Immigration is a common topic to Latinos and most of them are familiar with the DACA program. But there are many Asians who are still unaware of this program. Legal advocate Tiffany Panlilio, at Advancing Justice, stated that some Asian immigrants are waiting for the U.S. Congress to pass the immigration reform bill and they do not want to apply for this temporary status.

Many Chinese immigrants do not apply for this status because they believe that their parents will get into trouble if they reveal their immigration status. Chinese families are very conservative and hold onto family unity; most Chinese parents do not want their children to reveal their immigration status.

Those who still have not thought about applying for DACA will need to understand the benefits offered by this program. DACA will not only allow them to live here legally but will also grant them work permits and driver’s licenses and improve their lives in many other ways. They also need to remember that information collected from them will not used to place them or their family members in removal proceedings.

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