LOS ANGELES, California - While immigrants and advocates wait for the Senate and President Obama to introduce immigration reform legislation, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program remains one of the only forms of relief for undocumented immigrants, specifically the youth.
As of last month, immigration officials statistics show that Filipinos ranked 10th in applications with 3000 submissions.
The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) said it may be an advantage to apply for the program which temporarily prevents the deportation of certain undocumented youth while giving them work permits.
“If you look at past immigration history, a lot of times what happens is the people who went in line or started the process first will eventually be included in the legalization and citizenship so if you are eligible for DACA we do encourage people to apply,” said APALC supervising lawyer, Joyce Noche.
APALC is continuing to host DACA and immigration related clinics with community groups such as the Filipino American Community Los Angeles' (FACLA) newly arrived Immigration Assistance Program. But on this day, about a dozen attendees had other issues on their minds including petitions and possible immigration reform laws.
“As an immigrant community and community organization FACLA and other organizations like People's Core, we surely will try to help the community and give everybody a pathway to citizenship,” said FACLA’s Art Garcia.
One of the provisions Filipino immigrant rights advocates are fighting for in Washington DC right now includes reduced backlogs for petitions, the average wait time to petition a Filipino national is over 20 years.
Caregiver Tanni Lanzuela said she's been hoping that immigration reform can eventually bring her two sons to the US after a current 3-year wait.
“Both the president and Congress' principles that they laid out include some kind of correction to the current visa backlog problem. Filipinos are affected a lot because of the backlogs,” said Noche.
APALC advises many of the Filipinos with concerns that despite the hope for possible immigration reform, the battle is far from over and Filipinos need to continue exploring other immigration remedies.