CHICAGO (JGL) Undocumented young Filipinos appear to be very slow in signing up with the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration relief program promoted by President Obama for young immigrants brought to the United States by undocumented parents.
The DACA program does not provide permanent lawful status but approved applicants will get work authorization in the U.S. and their deportation will be temporarily suspended.
Quoting the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) and the Migration Policy Institute, Consul Arlene Magno of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. said “as of March this year, only 4,041 Filipinos have applied for DACA and of this number, 3,644 have been approved. The Migration Policy Institute placed the estimated eligible Filipino youth population at around 20,000.” The 3,644 accounted for 18% of 20,000.
According to Educators for Fair Consideration, there were an estimated 1.9-million undocumented young people nationwide eligible to apply for this critical relief program, with California topping the list with 460,000 applicants but only 35% or 161,000 have applied.
The Brookings Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) data on the first 465,509 applications, corresponding to the period August 15, 2012 to March 22, 2013 accounts for 87 percent of all accepted applications through June 30, 2013. DACA applications are accepted on a rolling basis and there is no deadline.
To qualify for the DACA program, applicants must meet the following criteria:
· Have arrived in the United States prior to age 16;
· Have continuously resided in the United States without legal status since June 15, 2007;
· Be less than age 31 as of June 15, 2012 and at least age 15 at application (unauthorized immigrants under 15 but in removal proceedings are also eligible to apply);
· Be currently enrolled in school, have graduated high school or obtained a general development certificate (GED), or be an honorably discharged veteran; and
· Have not been convicted of a felony or multiple or serious misdemeanors and not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
“It is unfortunate that majority of undocumented Filipino youths across the US continue to shy away from the DACA program even though they are eligible,” Consul Magno said.
Under the DACA program, which was announced in June 2012, undocumented aliens who came to the United States as children and met several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action by immigration authorities for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization.
“WE ARE MAKING A SLOW PROGRESS”
The USCIS states in its latest quarterly report that as of March this year, only 4,041 Filipinos have applied for DACA and of this number, 3,644 have been approved. The Migration Policy Institute placed the estimated eligible Filipino youth population at around 20,000. “These numbers constitute a small percentage of the estimated number of Filipino eligible youth and while there has been a gradual increase in the number of applications since August 2013, after the program reached its one-year mark, we are making very slow progress,” Magno said. “That is why we need to step up our campaign for DACA awareness among our communities.”
According to Magno, the Embassy, in cooperation with the advocacy group Own the Dream, and several partnering organizations, will be holding a DACA information session at the Romulo Hall in the evening of 30 July. “We would want to provide Filipino youths with the opportunity to learn more about the DACA and the renewal process and other information they may need to make informed decisions,” she said.
With the recent announcement by the USCIS of the renewal process for beneficiaries of the DACA program, Magno said there is now also a need to advise ‘DACAmented’ Filipinos about the need to request a renewal of their status between four to five months prior to their expiration date to avoid a lapse of their DACA, and subsequently, their work authorization or driver’s license.
Magno said that as part of its DACA awareness campaign, the Embassy has been inviting USCIS Community Relations Officers to participate in its consular outreach missions in the various states under its jurisdiction.
“Here in D.C., we hope to contribute tangibly to the campaign through the DACA Information Session on July 30 and the DACA Clinic on August 16,” Magno said.
Photo courtesy of npr.org