Massoud Hayoun
April 1, 2017


There are close to one million undocumented Asian immigrants. Despite such a high number, most of them go undetected. It’s no secret that the anti-immigrant ire directed at undocumented individuals has laser focused in on Mexican, Central, and South American immigrants.

“As an Asian American who doesn’t get as much exposure as the Latino undocumented community, despite there being [more than one] million undocumented Asian Americans, I’ve shown up at so many forums saying, look this is the face of someone undocumented, and this is a narrative not being talked about.” says Ivy Teng Lei, an undocumented immigrant from Macao.

While some undocumented Asian immigrants may see this as a good thing – to go under the radar – other believe it’s ultimately to their detriment. Some advocacy groups are concerned that Asian immigrant communities are too frightened to reach out for help from immigrants’ rights advocates, or they may just not know of any groups. While the risk of outing oneself as undocumented is still dangerous, many undocumented Latinos feel more protected and unafraid to reach out to immigration rights and legal aid groups.

“During times where we see policies targeting immigrant communities, undocumented Asians and Pacific Islanders don’t necessarily think they may be as vulnerable as someone who crossed the border. Most undocumented Asians and Pacific Islanders come over with some form of visa that expires, they think they are less vulnerable when, in fact, any non-citizen is susceptible to these policies targeting immigrants.” says Anthony Ng, a policy advocate for immigrant rights at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles.

Undocumented Asian Americans struggle in silence
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Organizations mentioned/involved: Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA)