WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCA, a national organization dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), applauds the Obama Administration for their commitment to providing temporary relief to law abiding undocumented youth by granting them legal status.
Under the new policy, approximately 800,000 undocumented students in the United States will be qualified for work authorization. Within the next 60 days, the USCIS and ICE are expected to begin taking applications. Those that are eligible include those who:
- Entered the United States before 16 and are under the age of 30.
- Have been in the country for at least five continuous years.
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the military.
- Students who have had good moral conduct.
“We are optimistic about the recent announcement to provide much needed relief to Asian Pacific Islanders who are undocumented…many of whom in every way are Americans, to their surprise, they find out that they are not citizens often after graduating from high school…can you imagine what that must be like? There are plenty of Asian Pacific Islanders who are in the 800,000 cited in the estimate,” says Executive Director, Tom Hayashi. “We are very hopeful that this type of immigration reform will put this country on the right path towards a more visionary public policy which is driven by compassion coupled with a permanent practical solution.”
According to City News Service, Representative Judy Chu, (CA-32) and chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, called the announcement a “momentous” policy change.
“Every year, tens of thousands of students who were raised in this country have their hopes of a higher education, and a brighter future, dashed, simply because of their immigration status,” Chu said. “It is unfair that a young person, brought up as an American, in American schools, cannot benefit from the opportunities afforded by a college education because of their parents’ mistakes.”
While these are the initial steps for true immigration reform, it is a necessary one that is inclusive of having APA voices heard in the debates. Many are tired of hiding in the shadows and are ready to be recognized for their current contributions and future potential. We must give them a chance. Providing life altering opportunities to these students is not only helpful to individuals, but the overall economy in the United States.
OCA along with our organizational colleagues continue to pressure Members of Congress for bi-partisan legislative leadership on a more comprehensive reform around immigration that will also create a pathway to citizenship. Together, we can achieve an immigration policy that is realistic, effective, and fair.