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‘The Happiest Day of My Life’ – Undocumented APIs Urged to Apply for Driver’s Licenses

‘The Happiest Day of My Life’ - Undocumented APIs Urged to Apply for Driver’s Licenses

 

 ‘The Happiest Day of My Life’ – Undocumented APIs Urged to Apply for Driver’s Licenses – New America Media

Above: California State Assemblyman David Chiu speaking at a press conference promoting new immigration programs for APIs.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Under a new law, thousands of undocumented Californians are applying for driver’s licenses for the first time. But advocates worry few among them will be from the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community.

In response, API leaders are coming forward to assure community residents they should not be fearful of applying.

AB 60, which went into effect this month, allows undocumented immigrants in California to obtain driver’s licenses.

Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Filipino American journalist who went public with his undocumented status in 2011, applied right away and passed his driving test in early January. Speaking at a press conference at the State Capitol on January 13, he described it as “the happiest day of [his] life.”

The conference was organized by the offices of Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), and Evan Low (D-San Jose) to promote new immigration programs for APIs.

“A driver’s license for people like us is more than a driver’s license,” he said. “If you are undocumented, this piece of paper proves that you exist, that you are recognized, and you are not illegal, because human beings are not illegal. There is nothing illegal about seeking a better life for yourself and your family. ”

Assemblymember Bonta pointed out that over 17,000 California residents applied for licenses under AB 60 on its first day of implementation, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles predicts that over 1.4 million undocumented residents will apply over the next three years. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants, he says, will be able to “driv[e] themselves to work without a fear of deportation.”

But if previous immigration reform initiatives are any indication, there may be disproportionately few license applicants from the undocumented API community.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which began in 2012, gives temporary legal status to certain undocumented young people who came to the United States as children. As of 2012 in California, there were just over 37,000 potential DACA beneficiaries from Asia, according to the Immigration Policy Center. But as of the following year, just 20 percent of them had applied for DACA.

Elected officials from the API community spoke about the need for APIs in California to not only apply for driver’s licenses, but also new initiatives brought about by President Obama’s executive action announced in November. The age cap for DACA has been removed, and a new program, Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) has been created to grant temporary legal status to undocumented parents whose children are citizens or legal permanent residents. Parents need to have been in the country for over 5 years and have not committed serious crimes.

Angela Chan, policy director and senior staff attorney at the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, encouraged undocumented APIs to apply for DACA and DAPA. Chan clarified that while the DACA and DAPA programs do not provide a pathway to citizenship, they shield beneficiaries from deportation and provide work authorization for three years.

Assemblymember Low said that it’s imperative to “maximize the momentum established by AB 60 and President Obama’s executive action to achieve true immigration reform for the API and all immigrant communities.”

Bonta added that over 400,000 of the country’s estimated 1 million undocumented APIs live in California. “That means close to half of the undocumented API community in the entire nation lives in California,” he said. “Now is the time for the API community to be fully engaged in and fully committed to the immigration discussion.”

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) added, “We need to do everything possible so that every person in this country, whether documented or not, has the same rights as the rest of us.”

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San Diegans Oppose Anti-Immigrant House Bill

sdirclogo

San Diego, CA: The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC) denounces House amendments to defund President Obama’s administrative relief plans on immigration. While this represents political posturing by members of the House, it is important to note that that the President has vowed to veto the bill.

On Monday, January 12, 2015, five amendments to H.R. 240 were approved by the House Rules Committee that would undo many of the President’s executive action plans on immigration. Most of the amendments focus on the prevention of funding for the Deferred Action for the Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs. The House passed the bill today.

Following are statement from SDIRC leadership.

Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is not always specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, social justice, and democracy issues. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

‘You Are America’ | Who is Eligible

En Español

You may be eligible for citizenship if you meet ALL of the following criteria:

 

  • You have been a permanent resident for at least five years (or three years if married to a US citizen).
  • You are at least 18 years of age.
  • You are a person of good moral character, which means:

-Not have committed certain crimes such as drug offenses, prostitution, or lying to the government.
-Not helped someone cross the border illegally.
-Not have done things that the government considers immoral, like not paying child support or taxes.

  • You are able to read, write and speak English well enough to have a simple conversation with the interviewer.
  • You are able to answer simple questions in the interview about US history and government:

-Generally, the officer asks 10 questions.

-All Questions come from a list of questions and answers that can be studied.

  • You have made America your home for at least five years and you have lived in this area for at least three months.
  • You’ve actually been in the US for at least half of each year for the past five years.
  • You are willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States.

You may be eligible for other reasons, if:

  • You served in the armed forces of the United States during a time of declared war or conflict (for example after September 11, 2001).
  • You are the son of US citizens.

To apply for citizenship:

  • Attend one of our  free assistance events for citizenship.
  • Make an individual appointment with one of our legal service providers.
  • Be sure to take the information and documents needed to complete a citizenship application workshop or individual appointment.
Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is not always specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, social justice, and democracy issues. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.