Opinion: Undocumented APIs, keep moving forward

Marissa Vichayapai November 17, 2016 0
For legal assistance, contact Northwest Immigrants Rights Project at (206) 957-8600 or visit www.nwirp.org. • Courtesy Photo

For legal assistance, contact Northwest Immigrants Rights Project at (206) 957-8600 or visit www.nwirp.org. • Courtesy Photo

The results from the elections have been a shock, devastating us all while leaving many questions about safety and what this means for the future. The staff and advocates from the Fearless Asians for Immigration Reform (FAIR!) Campaign want all Asians and Pacific Islanders who are undocumented to know that we will continue fighting for you. You are not alone.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program established by President Obama in June 2012 that grants temporary protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16, have resided in the United States since June 2007, and meets other requirements.

Since being elected, Donald Trump has announced that he will likely end executive actions by Obama, which puts Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in danger. The DACA program has provided 17,000 youth and young adults in Washington (almost 800,000 nationally) with the opportunity to pursue their goals, careers, and education without fear of deportation.

Washington state is home to the 7th largest undocumented API community—making up 26% of undocumented residents. Despite challenges of visibility and in-language resources, Seattle has led the way in providing support and outreach to undocumented APIs. In this challenging time, standing in solidarity with and for those who are undocumented is vital.

Know Your Rights:

Donald Trump will not take office until January 20, 2017. He does not become president until that day. Avoid scams! Consult with trusted community non-profits, organizations, and leaders if you’re unsure.

Keep fighting! Until we know what will happen for sure, we must continue organizing and coming together as a community to prepare for what’s to come. Join us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/21Progress/) to quickly see action alerts.

Common Questions and Answers Regarding DACA:

* The recommendations below may change depending on future announcements so please stay informed for further developments.

Q: If I have never applied for DACA but I think I qualify, what should I do?

A: If you have never applied to the DACA program and you are not currently in removal (deportation) proceedings, our recommendation is that you do NOT try to file an initial application at this time.

Q: I am in removal (deportation) proceedings, what should I do?

A: If you are represented by an attorney, you can contact him/her. If you are not, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can contact Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s offices at the numbers listed below.

Q: I do not have DACA but I already submitted an application, which is pending, what should I do?

A: If you already submitted an initial application for DACA and you were assisted by an attorney or accredited representative who confirmed your eligibility, our recommendation is that you continue with that application. It is possible that such an application may be approved before the end of the Obama administration. If you did not get assistance from an attorney or accredited representative, we would recommend that you consult with one to figure out what you should do.

Q: I am a current DACA recipient but my work permit is expiring soon, what should I do?

A: If you already have been approved for DACA and you have not had issues that might disqualify you from DACA, our recommendation at this time is that you continue to seek renewal of your DACA status if your permit expires before April 10, 2017. Issues that might disqualify you from DACA status include any arrests, charges or convictions, or travel outside the United States without prior approval (advanced parole) since your last application. Please understand that although we recommend pursuing renewal, it is possible that your work permit may not get approved and you may end up losing the application fee.

Q: I am a current DACA recipient and was planning to travel under advanced parole, what should I do?

A: Because of the uncertainty surrounding the future of DACA, our general recommendation is that DACA recipients not travel outside of the United States at this time, even with approval for advanced parole. However, we appreciate that there may be emergency circumstances and the government is still accepting requests for advance parole from DACA recipients as of the date of this advisory.

21 Progress and FAIR! remains deeply committed to undocumented youth and families and we will continue to support them and affirm that they are here to stay. We ask that allies join us in this critical moment. Our undocumented communities have purchased homes, become first-generation college students, and continued to be community leaders in service to equity and justice. Regardless of the outcome, we will continue with the movement towards equity and justice.

If you’re interested in getting involved, volunteering or supporting the work please contact Marissa Vichayapai at marissa@21progress.org. For legal assistance, contact Northwest Immigrants Rights Project at (206) 957-8600 or visit www.nwirp.org.

Marissa Vichayapai is 21 Progress’ Asian & Pacific Islander DACA WA State Coordinator and FAIR! Organizing Director.

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