By Juan Soto
The executive orders issued by President Barack Obama will offer protection from deportation to about 91,000 Queens residents, according to a study released last week by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.
The D.C. think tank noted that in the most ethically diverse county in the country, 37 percent of the 246,000 unauthorized immigrant population in the borough will benefit from the new deferred action federal measures.
The Migration Policy Institute estimated that 61,000 borough residents would be free from deportation because they are a parent of a U.S. citizen or a legal resident (DAPA program), while another 30,000 will have protection because they entered the country as a child (DACA), known as “Dreamers.”
More than 50 percent of then come from Central and South America.
DAPA refers to the executive order known as Deferred Action for Parent Accountability, while DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Both are temporary measures.
In New York City, the number of those who will be protected is about 236,000, according to the study. Nationwide, the number of unauthorized immigrants who will get protection is more than 5 million.
“The president’s programs could have a significant effect on the lives of millions unauthorized immigrants,” said Michael Fix, president of the Migration Policy Institute, an independent, non-partisan group that keeps track of migration trends worldwide.
Immigration experts pointed out the deferred action programs would benefit the unauthorized immigrants with better job opportunities and enrich the communities they live in. They will be authorized to work and stay here legally.
The New York City Immigration Coalition said the new programs will also add to the already heavy workload of service providers.
“This will be an extreme challenge,” said Betsy Plum, director of special projects for the immigration advocacy group. “You have providers who are almost to their capacity and now more New Yorkers potentially will be eligible for a new forms of relief.”
She noted that as more people need help, funding for services remains at the same levels. “Funding is not where it used to be,” Plum said.
Plum pointed out the city allocated $18 million to provide services for people who can benefit under the DACA program. She added the funding will expire in June.
“I hope the city renews the funding to reach new people under the program,” she said.
Randy Capps, director of research for the Migration Policy Institute, noted that Queens is home to the largest number of unauthorized immigrants from Asia countrywide, with a population of about 80,000, including 26,000 from China.
“Our analysis shows that deferred action is likely to affect counties differently,” Capps said.
The study indicates Mexicans represent the highest number of undocumented immigrants in the borough.
“Mexican immigrants are the unauthorized group most likely to be well-established in the United States and to have formed mixed-status families with unauthorized parents and U.S.-citizen or legal permanent children,” Capps said.
There are about 42,000 unauthorized Mexicans living in Queens, noted the report by the Washington group.
Unfortunately, changes in policy means at times new scams that target unsuspected citizens.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) warned borough immigrants about rip-offs related to Obama’s executive action.
“The executive action is good for the country,” Meng said. “But, unfortunately, it has caused fraudsters, con rtists and very greedy people to cash in on hopes and dreams of immigrants.”
Meng said the schemes are already occurring in Queens, where people are “swindling unwitting immigrants out of anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.”
The congresswoman noted that at this point immigrants should just consider getting their paperwork and documentation ready in order to apply for the new federal immigrant programs. She added Obama’s executive action has not been implemented yet.
Meng also sent a clear message to borough residents.
“Do not give money to anybody who says that they will apply for executive action on your behalf,” Meng said. “Do not pay anybody who says that they can make you a citizen or put you at the front of the line. These people are trying to rip you off, they are trying to take your money.”
In response to the scams, Meng said she will sponsor a forum in Queens sometime next month in collaboration with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to help the public understand how can they apply for the new programs.
“Most undocumented immigrants are hardworking people who want nothing more than a chance to work, live and contribute to our nation,” Meng said.