U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies have not only affected the Latino community, but have also affected Asians greatly.
Immigrants from Asian countries such as China, India, the Philippines and South Korea comprise the second largest immigrants group in the U.S.— 1.5 million — according to government figures and researchers.
And yet Asians have often been overlooked in the current debate over illegal immigration.
“Asians in the United States have not received the same sort of focus as people from Mexico and Latin America,” Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration lawyer and professor at Cornell Law School, said to Yahoo News.
Yale-Loehr said Asians are actually very concerned about the new enforcement policies.
Since Trump’s election in November, fear over the president’s immigration policies within the Korean community has been mounting, said Joon Bang, executive director of the Korean American Coalition in Los Angeles.
“We normally get about 60 calls a month regarding immigration issues and since Trump was elected we’ve had an average of about 150 calls per month,” Bang said.
He said once a domestically abused Korean woman in Los Angeles refused to go to the police because she was afraid of being deported.
“It’s all fear-related, from people with or without status, to those with a visa or in the process of applying for citizenship,” Bang said.
Most Asian undocumented immigrants come to the U.S. on student or tourist visas and with immigration plans. Then, they overstay their allotted time.
Bang said that many undocumented Asians have taken advantage of Obama-era executive policies on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).
These policies defer deportation for unauthorized immigrants who grew up in the United States and for parents of American citizens or legal residents.
“There is a demographic among the Asian community that wants to take advantage of this, so that they can be seen… and come out of the shadow,” Bang said.
However, these programs face an uncertain future under the Trump administration.
Yale-Loehr said in recent months he has counseled a number of undocumented students who are worrying about if they are still able to continue their studies at Cornell.
“Some of them have come in for a formal immigration consultation to determine whether they have other avenues to become legal, such as political asylum or marrying a US citizen for love,” he said.
He said his advice is to just lay low and wait it out, given the current situation.
“Many times they have no immigration options and it’s very frustrating because we don’t have a solution for them,” Yale-Loehr said. “But there is nothing we can do right now.”
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