Asian American Association and Association of Latin@ American Students join to educate students on DACA and immigration

Asian immigrants, including undocumented Asian immigrants, have become the fastest growing group of migrants to the United States.

Members of the Asian American Association (left to right) Linda Quach, Alice Yu, Isuru Gamlath, Kelilah Liu, Elaine Chen and Matt Walz hosted Thursday’s DACA informational session, co-sponsored by the Association of Latin@ American Students. Gamlath, advocacy chair for AAA, led the presentation, which featured information on both Asian and Hispanic immigration, DACA policy and paths to citizenship.

The Asian American Association and the Association of Latin@ American Students collaborated for an event Thursday night, working to educate MU students about immigration and DACA policy.

The presentation was led by AAA advocacy chair Isuru Gamlath and ALAS secretary Emily Fowler and featured information on U.S. immigration policies, paths to citizenship, benefits of a strong immigrant population and the current politics surrounding the upcoming end of DACA.

“Educating people on what DACA is is a very important thing,” ALAS President Gilberto Perez said. “Once you inform the public, they’re more likely to support DACA because DACA is such an important part of … a lot of people’s lives and a lot of people’s futures. They want to do something with the American Dream.”

While immigration is often portrayed from a Latino perspective, immigration from Asia, including undocumented immigration, has grown rapidly in recent years, becoming the fastest-growing undocumented migrant population in the United States. Currently, it is estimated that 1.45 million undocumented Asian immigrants live in the U.S.

Despite these growing figures, Asian immigrants have some of the lowest numbers of DACA applications. While 77 percent of eligible immigrants from Latin America applied for DACA, only 21 percent of eligible Asian immigrants applied. A further breakdown of application by country can be found from the (Migration Policy Institute)[http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/origin-and-community-asian-and-latin-american-unauthorized-youth-and-us-deportation-relief].

“[Immigration and DACA] is very much an issue that affects our racial category,” said Kelilah Liu, external vice president for AAA. “It’s a really big issue for [ALAS], but it’s also a big issue for us. That’s why we’re collaborating.”

One of the largest concerns surrounding the end of DACA is that applicants’ information may be sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the division of U.S. Department of Homeland Security that oversees immigration, including removal operations. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has stated that DACA applicants’ information will not be sent to ICE but noted that the policy can be changed at any time and without warning.

When President Donald Trump announced the end of DACA, he gave Congress six months to legalize a replacement. Two current options for the legalization of DACA recipients are the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act and the recently introduced Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our Nation Act.

Both acts would create a path to citizenship for those currently protected by DACA. That’s what Perez wants to see happen.

“[I want DACA] to be legalized and stay a part for future generations so that people can apply to it, get work permits, go to school, be able to go to college and follow their dreams, their future without the fear of being deported,” Perez said.

Edited by Sarah Hallam | shallam@themaneater.com

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