November 21, 2014

Akiko Aspillaga 

Community Organizer, ASPIRE

(415) 878-3059
(Contact not for publication) 

 Undocumented Asian Pacific Islanders

Ambivalent to President's Immigration Announcement

The Fight for the Millions Excluded Continues


San Francisco, CA -- ASPIRE, the first pan-Asian undocumented immigrant organization, commends the sacrifice and courage of our community in pressuring President Obama to extend administrative relief beyond undocumented youth. While we applaud the expansion of deferred action to approximately 5 million undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, we strongly condemn the President's action to increase enforcement policies and revamp programs that would further criminalize immigrants. 

Two years ago, two of our members and their families were at risk of joining the 1,100 families that are separated everyday under the Obama Administration. Despite the Lee and Rahayuningsih families being marked as low priority cases and having family members suffering from severe health issues, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continued their removal proceedings. After successfully stopping their deportations, we continued to fight against all deportations by placing ourselves before deportation buses, rallying in front of ICE buildings, and directly calling on the President to stop deportations during his speech in San Francisco's Chinatown. We felt compelled to take these actions, albeit risky, because everyone deserves to live in dignity and in unity with their family.

"No laws, no borders should violate our human right to be with family," said the parent of ASPIRE member Wei Lee, "nor should they deprive us of our deserving right to live without fear or shame." While millions more will be protected from deportation, millions will still be living in fear of deportation. This persisting exclusion in administrative relief sheds light on some significant limitations that must be addressed:

● Ineligibility of People who Qualified under S. 744: While undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are included, others will continue to live in fear of deportation: parents of deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) recipients, siblings of undocumented youth, LGBTQ individuals, and youth who came after their 16th birthday. President Obama can use his executive power to broaden relief to people who qualified under S. 744 but are ineligible under the strict criteria for DACA and the newly announced administrative relief.

● Family Backlogs: Backlogs created by centuries of racial discrimination force Asian Pacific Islanders to wait decades longer to be reunited with their families. The President can take executive action to reduce the amount of time that families are separated and help ensure that future generations are not forced to choose between legal status and family.

● Enforcement and Inevitably More Deportations: These enforcement issues will continue to militarize our borders, increasing the death rates. Strengthening enforcement is not only inhumane, but also a multi-billion dollar band-aid "solution" to a deeper dysfunction in the immigration system. While an approximate 400,000 to 500,000 Asian Pacific Islanders will benefit from this relief, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islanders are deported for criminal convictions at five times the rate of other immigrants. Enforcement which labels anyone with a criminal history as a threat to public safety fails to take into account rehabilitation or the trauma endured by our communities.

"This limited relief will not divide our community," says Siti "Putri" Rahamaputri. "We will not allow politics to dictate who is and who isn't deserving of relief. We will continue to fight for our excluded family and community members until there is not one more deportation."

# # #

ASPIRE is the first pan-Asian undocumented youth organization in the nation. We started with a few young people looking for support with their undocumented status at Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, CA.  ASPIRE has grown to an organization of 80+ members in the last 6 years. We educate people about immigration reform, advocate for more just policies on immigration, and mobilize undocumented youth and allies to push for fair and inclusive immigration.



TAX ID# 94-2176139