Outreach to Hawaii’s Undocumented Immigrants

October 15, 2015 11:23 am
by David Jakeman

A Hawaii immigration lawyer understands that one of the biggest challenges for many immigrants is knowing what their rights are. Rumors, sensational news reports, language barriers, and bad legal counsel can all get in the way of understanding the best way forward in an individual’s immigration journey. So it’s always great when community events are held to help immigrants understand their rights. Such services were provided for many in Hawaii last year, and they go a long way in helping immigrants make informed opinions.

Immigration Events in Hawaii

Several public outreach meetings were held to help immigrants in Hawaii understand recent developments in immigration law. One of the biggest changes that people need to understand is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, instituted by President Barack Obama back in 2012. Despite the fact that the program has been around for three years, there is still much confusion among the immigrant population.

DACA makes it possible for many young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children to have protections from deportation and be able to work and in some cases go to school. It has also been helpful for those looking to get a driver’s license and in-state tuition.

Hawaii Immigration Lawyer’s Take

Despite the fact that DACA has been all over the news, many people who are eligible have not yet taken advantage of the program. As of last summer, there were around 4,000 DACA eligible immigrants living throughout Hawaii, but only 270 have applied for the program. Perhaps the program’s controversy has made it hard for some immigrants to feel safe enough to come forward and take advantage of it.

One Hawaii immigration attorney believes there are lots of reasons for it. She says that some are worried about exposing other family members who are not eligible for the program. She also says that many Filipino and Pacific Islander immigrants are eligible for the DACA program but feel too ashamed to take advantage of it. By getting them to break through that barrier, they can have access to many advantages and have many doors opened that are currently closed.

Different events were held last summer to help individuals understand what options are available to them. Churches, unions, and other community organizations have worked to help get people signed up. One workshop was held at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu to help people understand what immigration programs they might be eligible for. Many Hawaii immigration attorneys were on hand to help make sure the advice being given was legally solid.1

All in all, these types of events are very helpful in helping immigrants surmount some of the obstacles facing their desire to have legal status in this country. More events are needed, and if any immigration reform is passed or if Obama’s executive actions is upheld by the courts, immigrants will need more outreach to make sure the advice they get is the best it can be.

1 http://www.kitv.com/news/efforts-to-reach-hawaiis-undocumented-immigrants/26857642

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