On May 19, the date that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was scheduled to begin accepting applications under the new deferred action initiative for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (known as DAPA), pro-immigrant activists held actions around the country in support of the currently blocked DAPA program.
To mark the occasion, Margaret Fung, executive director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), said: “As a national civil rights organization that advocates for fair immigration policies, we support the president’s immigration actions, including the expansion of deferred action, that could provide relief from deportation to almost 1.5 million undocumented Asian immigrants in this country." She said that AALDEF plans to represent individuals who would have qualified for DAPA and an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. AALDEF has provided legal assistance to Asian immigrant youth who may be eligible for DACA.
The Obama administration's expansion of DACA and the creation of a new deferred action program for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been in the U.S. for at least five years, announced last November, was to begin on May 19, 2015. However, on February 16, 2015, a federal district court blocked implementation of the expansion of DACA and DAPA. These programs would have allowed certain parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to apply for deportation relief and work authorization. This case is currently on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which could announce any day whether the lower court’s hold on the DAPA and expanded DACA initiatives will be lifted. Close to 500,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are among an estimated additional five million undocumented individuals who could benefit from all existing deferred action programs. Although the lawsuit only temporarily blocks the rollout of DAPA and expanded DACA, delays in implementing these programs harm the nation’s economy and prevent undocumented Asian immigrants from participating more fully in their communities.
NOTE: The court's decision does not impact the current DACA program, announced in June 2012, for which those who are eligible under the existing guidelines can continue to file initial or renewal applications (see DACA fact sheet and FAQs on DACA renewals). Individuals who believe they may qualify for the new DAPA and expanded DACA initiatives should be wary of individuals claiming that they can help file DAPA or expanded DACA cases now and ask immigrants to pay fees.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.
For more information, contact:
Annie Wang, Staff Attorney
Stanley Mark, Senior Staff Attorney