Undocumented Pinoy youths in US fear disclosing status

Manila News Bureau Chief

MANILA — Undocumented Filipino youths in the United States fear that a deferred action program put in place by the Obama administration for “illegal aliens” who came to America as children may lead to their and their families’ deportation.

This is the primary reason that young illegal migrants from the Philippines are reluctant to apply for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which gives them the chance to temporarily stay and find work in US even though they are eligible.

Several members of the Filipino community in US raised this concern during an information session on DACA that the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC hosted recently.

Under DACA, undocumented aliens who came to US as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action by immigration authorities for two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization.

In its last quarterly report issued in March, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service disclosed that only 4,041 Filipinos have applied for DACA and, of this number, 3,644 have been approved.

The Migration Policy Institute placed the estimated eligible Filipino youth population at around 20,000.

“Apprehensions about what could happen to them and their families once they make their status known to US authorities continue to be a major cause for alarm among potential DACA youth, preventing them from applying,” Consul Arlene Magno said in the information session at the Philippine Embassy’s Romulo Hall.

DACA was announced in June 2012.

Filipinos should set aside their fears, said Gloria Williams–Brevard, community relations officer of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.

DACA is neither an enforcement tool nor a program used to go after the undocumented, unless one is determined to be a threat to public safety, she said.

Those eligible to apply should take advantage of DACA, Brevard stressed.

If someone’s application gets denied, no further action would be taken against the applicant, Brevard said./PN