Wednesday marks exactly one week since President Joe Biden took the oath of office and signed new orders impacting immigrants. In some of his many actions taken last week, Biden asked congress to extend protections and pathways for dreamers and undocumented immigrants in the United States.
With this effort, he reversed the attempted measures that former President Donald Trump took to end the program.
Now under the executive order, current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients can stay without fear of deportation and apply for permanent citizenship status. These measures allow DACA recipients to receive temporary status and work authorization.
Tulsa Dreamer Francisco Centeno said this is a huge step in the right direction.
“I see it as a path to get seen and heard, we are not enemies, we are not enemies of the American people, this is the only country we have,” Centeno said.
Additionally, under Biden’s proposed immigration bill, undocumented immigrants would have the ability to apply for a pathway to citizenship. Currently, the American Immigration Council said there are about 85,000 undocumented immigrants in Oklahoma eligible to apply for that pathway.
Centeno said he has been in Oklahoma since he was two years old but has spent the last four years fearing the life he has always known would be taken away.
“We are just here to help our family, help the community," Centeno said. “I want them to understand we are here like you guys, we are Americans too, this is the only country we know.”
Tulsa Immigration Attorney Lorena Rivas said these orders and proposals by the new administration are something she was excited to see because she sees people every day who are hardworking community members that fear their time in the United States is limited.
“They are mostly good people and even though they may have come to the country illegally, by choice they wouldn’t have done that,” Rivas said. “The immigration system is broken and sometimes there’s no easy way to gain status here.”
For those who need to renew their DACA paperwork, they are encouraged to do so several months in advance due to COVID-19 backing up the system.