They are few, and they’re quiet.
It’s an understandable position to take within this population: They don’t want to talk.
Talking could mean arrest, or worse. It could mean separation from their families and deportation to a country they’ve never known.
“DREAMer” is a household term these days, a label that describes young immigrants who were brought to this country by their parents, and who would receive amnesty from the DREAM Act, an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors.
In August 2012, the Obama administration approved “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” which grants work permits to immigrants who entered the United States before the age of 16, and are working or serving in the military and have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors.
Work permits are available to two primary groups, says Laura Martin of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada: 20- to 25-year-olds who are in college, and an “older generation” of 26- to 30-year-olds. High school kids, Martin says, are just now finding out.
Mexican DREAMers are the most visible group, at least here in the Southwest, but there are others.
Filipinos and Sri Lankans are the top non-Hispanic groups seen by community-support organization Dream Big Vegas, says representative Astrid Silva, who herself recently qualified for a DACA work permit.
There aren’t many statistics available about non-Hispanic DACA applicants in Las Vegas or Nevada, mostly because the applicants are cautious about giving out too much personal information.
“We have rough estimates,” Silva says. “We try to take info, but for the most part they want to remain anonymous.”
Illegal residency is not an open topic of conversation among any group, Silva says, but, “In the Asian community, it’s a little more guarded.”
Emily Higby of the Asian Community Resource Center agrees. She and others opened the center recently to assist the Asian community with health and human services. Previously, there had been nothing like it. Navigating the immigration system is a service the center is open to fielding, but “people don’t talk about it,” Higby says.
Still, the numbers prove that Asians and other ethnic groups are applying for DACA.
Applications received nationally to date are overwhelmingly from immigrants of Central and South America, a report by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services report shows. The top country of origin is Mexico with 338,334 applications received to date, followed by El Salvador with 18, 449 applications. Honduras, Guatemala and Peru round out the top 5, but the No. 6 is particularly surprising: South Korea.
Research by the Migration Policy Institute shows that there are approximately 98,000 undocumented people living in Nevada, with Filipinos and Chinese ranking at No. 2 and No. 4, respectively, out of the Top 5. Of the entire undocumented population, the Migration Policy Institute estimates 30,000 are eligible for DACA.
Although the numbers don’t apply specifically relate to DACA, they give an idea of Nevada’s eligible group.
Mexicans make up 59 percent of immigrants in Nevada, but Filipinos and Chinese rank at a quieter, but significant percentage.