Asian immigrants do not use Deferred Action
By Annette Birch
A new study shows that Asian immigrants are not applying for the two-year work permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as much as Mexican immigrants. The study was presented on the one year anniversary for the start of the Deferred Action by Tom K. Wong, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.
“One of the things we have to look into is why DACA is not performing evenly among all ethnic groups,” Wong said at a conference held by the Center for American Progress.
Audrey Singer, senior fellow at the nonprofit Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, agreed. Her study of Deferred Action applications showed that most applicants came from Mexico and that immigrants with a Chinese background are not even among the top 25.
In the period from August 15, 2012, to March 22, 2013, the immigration service received 465,509 applications from undocumented immigrants for deferred status. By June 30, over 400,000 applications have been approved. However, the studies show that the applications are not evenly divided among ethnic groups: 93.5 percent of all applicants are immigrants from Latin American countries. Immigrants from Asian countries only make up 4.2 percent of the total number of applications, even though analysts had projected that they would make up 6.1 percent of the applicants.
However, Wong’s study shows that within the Asian group the ratio of applications varies substantially from nationality to nationality. Immigrants with Korean and Indian background are likelier to apply for deferred status than immigrants with a Chinese background, although there had been several attempts by ethnic media in Los Angeles to reach the Chinese population.
“We have to cut through the culture and shame that some Chinese have. Asian families are also pursuing legal status through other means, like work permit,” Wong said. He pointed to the effort by the Latin American community in reaching out to undocumented Latin American immigrants as well as the effort of the Mexican consulate to help find the necessary documents to apply for deferred status.
However, as long as Congress has not adopted a comprehensive federal immigration reform, the future for all undocumented immigrants remains uncertain. The Deferred Action only grants the immigrants a two-year period where they can stay legally in the United States. At the end of that period they have no guarantee that their permits will be renewed and that they will not be deported. Roberto G. Gonzales, Assistant Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, therefore found that the adoption of a comprehensive immigration reform was the only way to ensure immigrants a safe future.
“DACA-recipients want further integration. They feel American,” Gonzales said.