The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) was appalled to hear Attorney General Jeff Sessions announce this morning that the Trump administration is ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection for the roughly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Under this 2012 program initiated by President Obama, individuals were granted a temporary reprieve from deportation and work authorization if they met age and residence requirements, and completed a certain level of education and military service. Without DACA, the United States will face enormous human and economic costs.
In response to today’s announcement, Margaret Fung, AALDEF Executive Director, said: “After several days of anxiety, DACA beneficiaries and their allies are struck by the cruelty of this action. Despite President Trump’s promise to treat DACA recipients with ‘great heart,’ his administration has decided to pursue a heartless and blatant attack on the young immigrants and their families who contribute to and strengthen our country every day.”
As an Asian American civil rights organization, AALDEF has been providing direct legal representation to Asian undocumented youth and has trained pro bono attorneys to take on DACA cases. Annie Wang, a staff attorney in AALDEF’s Immigrant Access to Justice program, said: “As a formerly undocumented person who has worked closely with individuals to determine whether they were eligible for DACA, I’ve seen firsthand how this program has transformed the lives of my clients. Thanks to DACA, these young people have been able to pursue higher education, find meaningful employment, help their families, and otherwise more fully contribute to our society.”
In a memorandum issued today, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will reject all new requests filed after Sept. 5, 2017 but will continue to process pending renewal or initial requests, as well as the renewal requests of DACA recipients whose current benefits will be expiring on March 5, 2018.
During this period, AALDEF will advise existing DACA clients about other immigration options and assist eligible individuals with renewing their deferred action and work authorization. We also plan to collaborate with community groups to provide information to individuals who already have DACA.
As the DACA program is being wound down over the next six months, AALDEF is calling on Congress to move forward legislation that will protect undocumented youth. A long-term legislative fix for DACA recipients and the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States would make communities and our country safer and stronger.
NOTE: You can download AALDEF’s updated fact sheet on DACA (Sept. 5, 2017) here.
For more information, contact:
Annie J. Wang, Staff Attorney
Stan Mark, Senior Staff Attorney