Moments after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration is terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Asian-American activists spoke up against the decision, in support of all Dreamers.
Several Asian-American organizations expressed their opposition to DACA’s termination, which was announced on Tuesday. The program is scheduled to end in six months, with Congress now responsible for coming up with a solution that would preserve the program’s protections. The Obama-era program had protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, who would be at risk for deportation if a solution cannot be reached.
“It is cruel and un-American to ruin the lives of young people who stepped forward in good faith to participate in a program that has proven to be successful.”
The National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and its affiliates HANA Center, and Korean Resource Center, along with The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and many others have issued statements condemning the cancellation.
“It is cruel and un-American to ruin the lives of young people who stepped forward in good faith to participate in a program that has proven to be successful,” NAKASEC’s co-director, Dae Joong Yoon, explained in a press release. “They trusted the government. Ending DACA means the country is abandoning them and all the progress we have made together.”
While youth from Latin American countries make up the majority of DACA applications, Asian-Americans make up a sizable chunk of those eligible for the immigration program. Those who were previously able to request program consideration included undocumented individuals under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, who were brought the the U.S. before their 16th birthday and met another set of guidelines related to education and criminal background, among other issues. In 2016, South Korea, China, India and the Philippines were among the top ten countries of origin of DACA-eligible populations. The program’s termination could affect tens of thousands of members of the minority group.
Some organizations accused the Trump administration of acting immorally, with the Asian Americans Advancing Justice organization stating that the termination of the program, which disproportionately helped immigrants and people of color, is further proof that the administration’s agenda “is rooted in hate and inhumanity.” And others, including NAKASEC, have challenged allies and activists alike to resist the decision and fight to protect the undocumented community whether it’s through pro-bono case work, providing sanctuaries undocumented Americans, or calling members of Congress.
“We know what is going to happen next. ICE raids and months spent in detention centers and the mass deportation of people who have only known the United States as their home.”
But many also expressed fears regarding what the termination of DACA could mean for those who’ve benefitted from the program. NAPAWF said it believes more ICE raids are looming. In July alone, more than 650 people were arrested during a four-day spree. And back in February, immigration officers and agents raided a string of Asian restaurants in Mississippi, causing alarm in the state’s immigrant communities.
“We know what is going to happen next. ICE raids and months spent in detention centers and the mass deportation of people who have only known the United States as their home,” the organization wrote in a statement. “We have already seen the devastating impact of deportation on our communities, especially for AAPI women and youth. The threat of deportation tears families apart and negatively impacts their economic stability, employment, and reproductive choices.”
Still, many are hoping Congress will step up to provide an acceptable, permanent solution for undocumented youth ― something AAAJ says that the administration has failed to do.
“It is incumbent upon our Senators and Representatives to enact a permanent legislative solution that would once and for all protect our DACA recipients and place them on a pathway to citizenship,” the group said.