DACA recipients, immigration advocates hopeful despite court ruling

SAN FRANCISCO – Undocumented immigrant Brain Cheong, 24, says that despite the ruling of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block President Barack Obama’s extended DACA and DAPA programs, he’s not ready to give up the fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

“This is not the end,” said Cheong. “We need to continue to fight and I would like to think that we are confident and that we’re going to achieve.”

Cheong, who is a DACA recipient, along with other immigration advocates say that the recent announcement does not mean that other undocumented immigrants should not lose hope, either.

“I know for the community this seems like another setback and another loss but the truth is many people expected this outcome from the 5th Circuit,” said Sally Kinoshita, deputy director for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “It’s known to be a conservative court so we were expecting that they would deny the appeal. It now opens up the opportunity to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the issue. They have the ultimate authority.”

“The 5th Circuit’s decision only applies to the programs that President Obama announced last November 2014,” said Juan Ortiz, Staff Attorney of the International Institute of the Bay Area. “It doesn’t affect current DACA.”

Advocates cite that among the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, Filipinos represent one of the largest groups of undocumented immigrants.

Yet, they say their DACA application rate is low.

According to a recent Migration Policy Institute report, Filipinos have about a 23 percent application rate but a high renewal rate at 87 percent.

And while fear of deportations and the uncertainty of the future of the DACA program remain, immigration advocates urge all those eligible for DACA to still apply.

“A lot of youth, maybe they were scared in the beginning and were cautious about applying but now a lot of them have their benefits,” said Ortiz. “They’re able to go out into the work force with their work permits. They’re able to go to school. They have social security numbers. So they’ve been able to overcome that fear and it has changed their lives dramatically.”

“And we’re seeing that really there haven’t been any of the fears coming true where people are fearful of being put on a government list and may have put themselves at greater risk,” said Kinoshita.

Immigration advocates and attorneys advise all applicants to prepare their documents and apply as soon as the Supreme Court hands down its decision.

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