This report from the Asian and Pacific American Health Forum describes how the lessons learned and best practices identified in conducting outreach to, and assisting immigrants, especially Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, enroll in health care insurance through the health insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, might be applied to outreach and enrollment for Deferred Action programs with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Although President Obama’s executive actions to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and create a Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) Program are currently on hold while being challenged in federal court, this report provides valuable guidance to community-based organizations and others anticipating the eventual implementation of those programs.

Key informants identified the following barriers to DACA applications for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, many of which occurred simultaneously, and were responsible for the low rates of DACA applications from Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders:

  • Feelings of shame, fear, and guilt
  • Language barriers for some DACA-eligible youth and parents of DACA-eligible individuals
  • Confusion and misinformation about the DACA program and application process
  • Lack of resources for community-based organizations to adequately conduct outreach and provide assistance

Given the demographic overlap, similar messaging challenges, and fears, supporting enrollment in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act offers a number of lessons that can be adapted to promoting Asian American and Pacific Islander participation in the Deferred Action programs. They include:

  • Engage Asian American and Pacific Islander community-based organizations
  • Build partnerships with faith-based organizations, schools, small businesses, ethnic media
  • Address language and cultural barriers
  • Champion the voices of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders eligible and impacted by these programs

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