The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘Dreamers’ aren’t just coming from Latin America

Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program rallied outside the White House on Sept. 5 to protest President Trump's decision to end the pro (Video: Reuters)

Like much of the debate around illegal immigration, the conversation about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is often centered on Latinos, and specifically Mexican immigrants. But the population that immigrated to the United States illegally as minors is much more diverse than that.

It is true that the majority of applicants to the DACA program have been from Mexico and other predominantly Latino countries. But seven of the top 24 countries with the highest acceptance rate for DACA applicants are in Asia, Europe or the Caribbean.

Tens of thousands of young people from South Korea, the Philippines, India, Jamaica, Tobago, Poland and Pakistan arrived in the United States as minors and have been protected from the threat of deportation since DACA was established in 2012.

And because Latino is not a race, even many of the predominantly Latino Central and South American countries that are in the top 20 for DACA recipients have sizable black populations, including Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Guyana.

The Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank, reported that there are about 600,000 black undocumented immigrants among the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

And according to the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, an immigrant rights group, these immigrants are less likely to have their DACA applications approved than non-black immigrants. The countries with the largest number of black DACA recipients are Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Nigeria. “While approximately 87  percent of applications from these four countries were approved, about 91 percent of DACA applications from all of the top 25 countries tracked by USCIS were approved,” according to BAJI.

While fear of deportation is common for undocumented immigrants, BAJI said the fear is justified among black immigrants because they are detained and deported at five times the rate of other populations of undocumented people.

The Trump administration is appealing an injunction on the phaseout of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and asking the Supreme Court to get involved. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Undocumented immigration from Asia is more common than many Americans realize; undocumented Asians make up about 14 percent of America’s total undocumented population. About one out of every seven Asian immigrants in the United States is undocumented, according to AAPI Data, a project by the University of California at Riverside providing data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

And Asians made up 10 percent of the population potentially eligible for DACA, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

The Congressional Black Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers addressing policy issues related to black Americans, called Trump’s decision to phase out DACA “racist.”

And Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) called Trump’s decision “an open attack” on immigrant communities inconsistent with U.S. core principles.

“This is not about the economy or crime; rather he only seeks to further his xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda, which continues to tear families apart,” said Chu, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “Dreamers are deeply woven into the fabric of our nation, including the many undocumented Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who arrived in the United States as children through no fault of their own.”