Press Release

After 10 Years of DACA, AALDEF Joins with Undocumented Asian American Youth to Call for Citizenship for All

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For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, June 15, 2022

After 10 Years of DACA, AALDEF Joins with Undocumented Asian American Youth to Call for Citizenship for All

As we mark the 10th anniversary of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) calls on Congress to deliver on a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and all the other undocumented individuals in the United States. A federal district judge’s July 16, 2021 decision in Texas v. U.S., finding DACA unlawful, has blocked the Department of Homeland Security from granting DACA to thousands of immigrant youth who are applying for deferred action and work authorization for the first time. While those who have previously been granted DACA will be able to continue filing renewal requests, DACA’s future is uncertain as the Texas case is on appeal and ultimately expected to be heard at the U.S. Supreme Court. As for the implications for the New York metro area alone, a new report estimated that 38,000 DACA recipients live in the New York metro area; the average age of DACA recipients in the metro area is 30 years old; DACA recipients have lived in this country for 21 years on average; and 82% of DACA recipients are in the labor force.

Annie Wang, director of AALDEF’s Immigrant Justice Project, said, “DACA was never intended to be a long-term solution for undocumented youth. As someone who has been fortunate to see my DACA clients’ growth over the years, including milestones like college graduation and entry into the workforce, I’m pained and frustrated by the limbo that they continue to live in. AALDEF stands with all immigrant communities to demand that Congress and the White House enact legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants and all others who are undocumented in this country.”

Since DACA was announced in 2012, AALDEF has provided legal representation to RAISE, the first undocumented Asian American youth group on the East Coast. RAISE (Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast), a pan-Asian, undocumented youth-led group, said: “This 10-year anniversary is not a celebration, but a stark reminder that we are still so far behind. Undocumented people need citizenship now. As DACA recipients and undocumented people, we live in constant fear that we will be deported, every single day. Ten years of limbo status is ten years too many. But fixing DACA alone is not enough. DACA doesn’t protect our parents, our friends who arrived after DACA’s deadline, and our neighbors targeted by an unjust criminal system. We need immigration reform that protects all 11 million of our undocumented community. We need a pathway to citizenship, not just a limited and exclusionary program that only allows us to work while still calling us ‘illegal aliens.’” Follow RAISE on Instagram for thoughts shared by members at this 10-year mark with their #DACA10yearchallenge.

Individuals who are eligible to renew their deferred action under DACA, but have not yet done so, should consult with immigration attorneys and nonprofit legal service providers if they have questions or need assistance submitting their DACA renewals. See the list of legal service providers across the U.S.

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For more information, contact:
Stuart J. Sia, Communications Director
212.966.5932 x203

Annie J. Wang, Director, Immigrant Justice Project
212.966.5932 x213