SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – The Biden administration is making immigration reform one of its top priorities.
Included in that is proposed legislation that would make the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program permanent.
DACA has shielded people who came to this country as young children from deportation.
The DACA recipients are called ‘Dreamers’ because up until now, becoming a U.S. citizen has seemed like a dream but now that dream is a step closer to reality and the dreamers are excited that it might actually happen this time.
“We’ve had a lot of anxiety on whether we’re going to have to go back to working under the table,” Mario Lopez said.
Mario Lopez has been on the frontlines of the effort to stop the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded him and some 700,000 other undocumented people from deportation after they were brought to the U.S. as children.
It’s been living in limbo, says Lopez.
“The past four years has been filled with uncertainty and anxiety for folks like myself, who haven’t necessarily had an understanding of where our future is going to be,” Lopez said.
Just 5-years-old when he arrived in California, Lopez is a graduate of UC Berkley and a policy analyst for County Supervisor Otto Lee.
Now, he is optimistic about President Biden’s proclamation calling on Congress to adopt legislation that gives DACA recipients permanent legal status and a path to citizenship.
“So now that we have President Biden having issued his proclamation essentially restoring and preserving and strengthening, it really does provide us with a sense of relief and uh, we’re very excited, I’m very excited,” Lopez said.
Biden’s plan would allow for Lopez and his fellow dreamers to apply for a green card immediately.
Although the supreme court blocked trump’s attempt to end DACA, his administration imposed limits on the program.
Now, the dreamers could become citizens in just three years and not a minute too soon.
“The pandemic has essentially exacerbated a lot of the conditions that we’ve already witnessed as an immigrant community living in the shadows and fearful of potential enforcement and policies that separate families, you know who have claimed to be residents for a very long time,” Lopez said.