Undocu / DACAmented Asian Students

Immigration policy is a complex entanglement of federal and state laws, stemming from a history of the anti-Asian sentiments that fueled the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Although they were referred to as the first “illegal aliens” in the United States, Asian-Americans are largely absent in conversations surrounding undocumented immigrants, a tactic used to center an anti-Latinx rhetoric that criminalizes Central and South Americans. This purposeful invisibilization further marginalizes undocumented Asian immigrants in Asian-American activism to the point where most Asian-Americans are unaware that they exist, despite one in seven Asian immigrants being undocumented. Recent movements within the Asian community, particularly those concerning affirmative action, exemplify the widespread ignorance toward Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students and their stakes in the college admissions process. Asian DACAmented students experience dual liminality, a gray area of both legality and ethnic identity, affecting the way they view themselves and politics. As a group already with few choices for higher education due to legal and financial barriers, affirmative action is crucial to ensuring that undocumented students have a chance to pursue a university degree. In this article, I delve into the specifics of dual liminality and the college admissions process for undocu/DACAmented Asian immigrants, and how the Harvard Admissions case could be devastating for these students.

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