Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Thai American med student joins DACA lawsuit vs. Trump administration

Jirayut Latthivongskorn wants to change the world and improve health systems.

A THAI/AMERICAN medical student is one of the six DACA participants suing the Trump administration.

The suit, filed today (Sept. 18) in San Francisco federal court, is the first to be brought by beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this month that the Obama-era policy would start winding down in March 2018, according to Garcia’s lawyers.

"Today, I join as one of the co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Trump administration," wrote Jirayut (“New”) Latthivongskorn in his Instagram account.

"Just like how undocumented youth stood up to fight and won the original DACA, it is critical that we, the ones directly affected, are central to our current fight," wrote Jirayut. "Excited to be able to contribute to the chance of stopping the rescission of DACA for 800,000 undocumented folks! Rest assured we will defend DACA AND call on Congress to pass a long term solution that does not further criminalize our communities."

The legal claims in all of the cases, including Garcia‘s, are similar: that the Trump administration did not follow proper administrative procedure in rescinding DACA, and that making enforcement promises to a group of people, only to revoke them, violates due process.

Jirayut was brought to the United States from Thailand when he was nine. He is now a fourth year medical student at University of California San Francisco and a master’s degree candidate in public health at Harvard. 

His DACA work authorization expires in January 2019. Jirayut's medical residency is not set to begin until a few months after that, and could be impossible if he loses his authorization to work legally.

“I have all these big ideas about how I want to change the world and change systems around health care,” he said. “The fact I might not be able to get there is troubling and frustrating.”

Since Obama authorized DACA by Executive Order in 2012, the program has provided protection from deportation and the right to work legally to nearly 800,000 young people. 

Jirayut joins five other plaintiffs, all originally from Mexico, include one licensed attorney, a therapist, a law students and two teachers:
  • Dulce Garcia, a San Diego attorney, was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 4, 
  • Viridiana Chabolla Mendoza, a Pomona College graduate who is now a first-year law student at UC Irvine. Her family brought her from Mexico to the U.S. when she was 2.
  • Norma Ramirez is a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology from the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. Since 2016, she has worked at an outpatient clinic in Monrovia, providing school- and home-based therapy to patients in English and Spanish. Her parents brought her to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 5.
  • Miriam Gonzalez Avila, a teacher at Crown Preparatory Academy, an unaffiliated LAUSD charter school in the Jefferson neighborhood of Los Angeles. A 2016 UCLA graduate, she is earning a master’s degree in urban education, policy and administration from Loyola Marymount University. Her family brought her to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 6 years old.
  • Saul Jimenez Suarez, a former college football player who is now a special education teacher, coach, and mentor in Los Angeles. His family brought him to the U.S. when he was 1 year old.
He graduated from the University of California-Berkeley, with a bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Throughout college, he funded his education with part-time jobs and private scholarships while staying involved in groups such as the Thai Student Association, Resident Hall Assembly, and the AB540 Coalition on campus. 
Off-campus, he served as a first co-chair of ASPIRE (Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education) at Asian Law Caucus, where he advocated and fought for the passage of the federal and the CA DREAM Act of recent years. As a New American Scholar of Educators for Fair Consideration, a nonprofit organization supporting students in higher education, he shares his personal immigration experience to portray a different side of “DREAMers.”

In April of this year, Jirayut received a 2017 U.S. Public Health Service mission to "protect, promote and advance the health and safety of our Nation.

Although a majority of the DACA beneficiaries are Latino, there are about 17,000 Asian/Americans in the DACA program.

Though Asians account for a significant and growing population of undocumented immigrants in the United States, they had some of the lowest application rates to DACA. Only about 20% of the eligible Korean population applied, and only 23% of eligible Filipinos and 20% of eligible Indians applied, according to the Migration Policy Institute. But 82% of eligible Mexicans applied.


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