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Undocumented Indian and Pakistani Immigrants Also Affected by Supreme Court’s Decision of DAPA

After it was announced on June 23 that the Supreme Court was split 4-4 on President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration — known as DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) — the media focused its attention on the undocumented Latino immigrants who feared being deported and separated from their families here legally in the U.S. However, other ethnic groups are also facing the same hardships as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision.

On November 20, 2014, President Obama issued an executive order to establish DAPA that would allow approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents to apply for the program so they could obtain work permits and be prevented from being deported. DAPA was an expansion of the Obama administration’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which began in June 2012. DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before the age of 16 and before June 2007 to be eligible for work permits every two years (subject to renewal). While they would not face deportation, DACA would not grant them legal status.

India-West reported that Indians are the second-largest population (after Hispanics) who would have benefitted from DAPA and DACA programs, had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Obama administration. According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are 284,000 undocumented Indian immigrants in this country, with at least 110,000 who would have benefited from DAPA and would no longer have to fear deportation. The think tank also reported that 55,000 undocumented immigrants are Pakistani.

There are 11,000 children over the age of 15 who are eligible for DACA, according to the Migration Policy Institute, but, so far, only 3,000 have applied. One student, who came from Pakistan, told India-West about her experiences living as the child of undocumented immigrants; she arrived to this country at the age of seven but did not know she was undocumented until she was a senior in high school.

She unknowingly used her father’s Social Security number on a college application when she applied to UC-Berkeley. The college rejected the application because the Social Security number did not match her name. It was then when her parents told her of her immigration status. She said she “cried for eight hours straight” when she learned she could not go to the college of her choice. She attended a community college, applied for DACA, then transferred to UC-Berkeley.

Many immigration activists told India-West they are holding out hope for the next president to choose a Supreme Court justice that will uphold DAPA. They also are looking to Obama to pardon undocumented residents. The article goes on to say that, while a pardon could be used in a situation like this and would prevent undocumented residents from being deported, it would not grant them work permits.

For more information about DAPA, DACA and other paths to establishing legal status, please contact an experienced immigration attorney. When it comes to your status as a legal resident, it is important to act as soon as possible. If you are seeking help on immigration matters or possibly facing deportation, call the experienced attorneys at Bretz & Coven, LLP at (212) 267-2555.

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