June 22nd, 2023

Washington, D.C. – June 15, 2023 marked 11 years since the creation of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. Enacted via executive order by former President Barack Obama in 2012, the temporary program grants work permits and safety from deportation for young people who arrived in the United States before June 15, 2007. DACA was hard-fought and hard-won by Black, brown, and Asian immigrants who organized and fought relentlessly for years. While the program provides relief for hundreds of thousands, millions were excluded from the possibility of even temporary relief. We urge Congress to enact permanent legislation in the form of a pathway to citizenship. The DACA program itself is also temporary – in July 2021, Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas deemed DACA unlawful and ordered that new applications be halted. In October of 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled that the 2012 DACA memo was unlawful, though they allowed for renewals to continue. The Fifth Circuit Court sent the case back down to Judge Hanen for his consideration of the new 2022 DACA rule. Judge Hanen heard oral arguments in June 2023 and a ruling is expected sometime this year.

“For 11 years now, DACA recipients have been anticipating pathways to permanent status, and still have not seen any progress. Countless Asian Americans and Pacific Islander immigrants and their families have been living in fear of deportation,” said Gregg Orton, National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans. “Our nation is stronger with immigrants, and subjecting immigrants and their families to instability harms our community. We urge Congress to act now to pass immigration legislation that will secure a pathway to citizenship for all immigrant communities.”

“Here we are, 11 years after DACA began, not any closer to permanent solutions for immigrants,” said Jung Woo Kim, DACA recipient and NAKASEC Co-Director. “DACA was always meant to be a temporary solution but it has become the long-term reality for hundreds of thousands. The roots of anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and racial capitalism are deep and continue to prevent the American immigration system from being updated and humanized. 11 million people – parents, children, students, workers, and friends, remain in danger of incarceration, deportation, and family separation. NAKASEC implores Congress to pass the Registry bill to update the immigration system and provide solutions for generations to come. Every person, regardless of race, gender or sexuality, disability, and legal status, deserves to live safely with their loved ones.”

“It is unconscionable that DACA recipients and our undocumented loved ones have been waiting 11 years for a pathway to permanent status in the country they call home,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “DACA has proven what we’ve always argued: that our communities are stronger when undocumented immigrants do not have to live in fear or in the shadows. Instead of leaving our communities in constant uncertainty, Congress needs to do its job and pass legislation that will provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented families, including the 1.7 million undocumented Asian immigrants and 14,000 Asian American and 150 Pacific Islander active DACA recipients.”

“DACA has transformed the lives of countless AAPI workers, but the program is under threat and incomplete,” said Alvina Yeh, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). “We must strive for a comprehensive approach that tears down barriers for undocumented AAPI immigrants and values their labor and their communities fully. DACA has provided relief by allowing some immigrants to work and study without the constant fear of deportation, but millions of our siblings are still forced to live and work in the shadows. We urge Congress to pass the Registry bill and put an end to the political games being played with people’s livelihoods and futures.”

“A permanent pathway for Pacific Islander immigrants cannot be achieved without a permanent pathway for all immigrant communities,” said Estella Owoimaha-Church, Executive Director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities. “After 11 years, we remain committed to advocating for DACA recipients and their families, and call on Congress to pass a legislative solution that will secure a sustainable future for them, as well as for this country.”

“Originally intended as a temporary fix for a select few, 11 years later DACA remains a tenuous lifeline for these individuals even as their family and friends might remain targets or have been subjected to deportation,” said David Inoue, Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League. “Congress must act to pass comprehensive immigration reform so that we might guarantee our nation’s future success through the vitality that is brought when we welcome more immigrants to our country and eliminate the clouds of uncertainty that so many who are already here live under.”

Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council ofAsian Pacific Americans is a coalition of forty-six national Asian Pacific American organizations that represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns.