As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments surrounding President Obama’s executive orders on immigration, known as expanded DACA (DACA+) and DAPA, Define American will be sharing the stories of undocumented immigrants who would either be able to seek temporary deportation relief under one of the two programs currently frozen by the court system, and those who are afforded the same protections under DACA. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children limited benefits including temporary deportation relief and work authorization. Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) grants the same benefits to the parents of U.S. citizens. Neither are a pathway to citizenship. The Supreme Court will hold a hearing on DACA+ and DAPA on April 18, with a decision expected sometime in June. With a lack of action in Congress, the executive orders are currently the only national immigration efforts in motion.
(Jong-Min You, on the far right)
Jong-Min You, 36 – Arrived in 1981 from Seoul, Korea when he was a year old. Jong-Min currently lives in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn in New York City. Jong-Min came to the United States under his parents’ student visas in 1981. Though he has a B.A. with honors in sociology with a concentration in criminal justice and a minor in psychology, his undocumented status has prevented him from working in his desired fields. He currently manages the family grocery store, as well as the two apartments that his parents own. Jong-Min has actively worked to raise awareness on immigration issues and appeared on the cover of Time as part of a group of undocumented immigrants featured in the cover article written by Define American founder Jose Antonio Vargas. Jong-Min narrowly missed the age cut-off for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He hopes to become a great federal judge one day, with aspirations as high as sitting on the Supreme Court.
What would a decision in favor of DACA+/DAPA mean for your life?
The decision would allow me to finally have a work permit and help me continue my education. I would love to travel back to Korea and explore the possibilities of driving across the U.S. Also, maybe in 3-4 years, I could put my law degree to practice as well.
What would a decision against DACA+/DAPA mean for your life?
The same status quo and limbo would continue. I sincerely hope that the justices realize that we cannot continue living in our invisible prisons. Living behind these invisible bars, struggling with our families.
What do you want other Americans to know about what’s it’s like to be undocumented in the U.S.?
The current immigration system is very complicated, difficult to navigate and impossible to deal with. Many, if not most, undocumented immigrants do not have a chance to become an American citizen (or be on a pathway to it). In fact, even with an education at the highest level, we still cannot move on with our lives. We ask for a chance, an opportunity, to fulfill our hopes and dreams. With legislation in place— hopefully soon— it could greatly help many immigrants and our families.
What is the first thing you’d do if you received DACA+/DAPA?
The first thing I would do if I received DACA+, is make sure my parents have their own paperwork as well. Whether filing, petitioning or whatever is needed, I’ll make sure the paperwork gets started.