WASHINGTON – The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the largest and oldest Asian American civil rights organization in the nation, expresses disappointment with the House passage of five amendments to H.R. 240.
The amendments effectively nullify President Obama’s 2014 executive action plans on immigration and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Priscilla Ouchida, executive director of the JACL, said, “The House’s politically motivated actions disproportionately impact millions of immigrant families in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Parents of citizen and legal resident children would have contributed to the economy through paying taxes, which is a stipulation of DAPA. Talented undocumented AAPI youth who would be protected under DACA again face unfair barriers to leading productive lives without fear of deportation.”
The JACL supported Obama’s executive action in November 2014, when he announced a plan to provide relief from deportation to over 5 million undocumented residents in the U.S., of whom an estimated 1.3 million are AAPI.
On Jan. 12, five amendments were added to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriation Act of 2015 (H.R. 240). The bill passed on Jan. 14 by a vote of 236-191 in the House. The amendments defund the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) plan proposed by Obama to provide temporary work authorization for undocumented immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents.
The amendments also halt the expansion of DACA, a program that grants safe harbor to young people brought to the United States as children, including the DREAMers (individuals who meet the general requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act). DACA would have allowed millions of educated, law-abiding youth to get a Social Security number, drive a car, and be employed with benefits.
OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, a national membership-driven organization of community advocates dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans, also condemned the House’s actions.
“We are outraged that the House majority voted to pass the bill with all five adopted amendments,” said Ken Lee, OCA national acting chief executive officer. “1.3 million APAs are undocumented. Their lives are not political capital. The livelihood of undocumented families should not be used as a bargaining tool in national security politics. We urge the Senate to be more sensible in their approach to funding DHS and ensuring the safety of all Americans without eliminating the few opportunities that have been provided to immigrant communities. We will continue to work closely with our congressional allies to make sure that we do not repeat this disappointment in the Senate.”