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DACA Decision Impacting Asian Community

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Protesters hold various signs and banners at a DACA rally in San Francisco. Image retrieved from Wikimedia

By Bruce Rutledge,

The decision by President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy is sending ripples of anxiety through the local Asian community.

While DACA is seen widely as something affecting Hispanic immigrants, it is having a profound impact on Asian communities as well. Hong Chhuor, communications manager for the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), said his organization has been frustrated that this isn’t more widely understood. “This does impact the AAPI community,” he said, using the common abbreviation for Asian American and Pacific Islander.
For example, estimates put the number of undocumented AAPIs at 1.3-1.5 million, and the number in Washington state at around 70,000, according to data obtained from the ACRS. This Asian and Pacific Islander group is also thought to be the fastest growing undocumented group in the state, with about 39,000 in the Seattle area. The group consists mainly of Koreans, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese and South Asian, the organization notes.

Those protected under the DACA policy are known as Dreamers. Local politicians have vowed to protect local Dreamers, and yet their futures are filled with uncertainty. About 100 Dreamers attend the University of Washington, and about 150 are enrolled in Washington State University, according to the Bellevue Reporter.

Chhuor explained that even before Trump’s decision, many hurdles existed for undocumented immigrants of Asian descent, including language barriers, shame and the fear of exposing one’s family to legal scrutiny. But now, the barriers are larger and more daunting.

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