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Families Say They’re Feeling ‘Hopeful’ Following President Biden’s Immigration Announcement: ‘It’s Something We’ve Been Waiting For So Long’

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In Florida, Laura James-Valdez said that despite being married for nearly a decade, her husband’s green card pathway has been a struggle due to his immigration status. “We’re not even able to get health insurance for him,” said Ms. James-Valdez, a U.S. citizen. “We pay taxes together, but he’s not even able to get benefits of being a good citizen for this country.”

But President Biden’s new plan to protect eligible undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens, as well as ease the process for some DACA recipients to be sponsored by their employers, is a ray of light for the family. “This new process will help certain noncitizen spouses and children apply for lawful permanent residence – status that they are already eligible for – without leaving the country,” the White House said. “These actions will promote family unity and strengthen our economy, providing a significant benefit to the country and helping U.S. citizens and their noncitizen family members stay together.”

“I’m so excited, honestly, because it’s something we’ve been waiting for so long,” James-Valdez continued to WPTV. “It’s like hope for both my husband and I.” For several other American families who stand to be impacted by President Biden’s announcement, the standout word also seems to be “hope.” The Associated Press:

Magdalena Gutiérrez of Chicago, who has been married to a U.S. citizen for 22 years and has three daughters who are U.S. citizens, said she had “a little more hope” after Biden’s announcement. Gutiérrez, 43, is eager to travel more across the United States without fearing an encounter with law enforcement that could lead to her being deported.

In Arizona, a mixed-status family featured in a recent digital ad from FWD.us also reacted with hope. Arizona’s Family

After learning about the new immigration plan, Rosa Sanchez no longer fears she’ll be separated from her husband Everk.

“I cried all morning. It’s been amazing. It’s been a dream come true,” said Rosa. “It just made me feel safe. It made me feel very hopeful that now we’re going to be a normal family.”

Rosa and Everk have been happily married for eight years and have five children together in Phoenix. However, unlike Everk, Rosa is not an American Citizen.

“Everybody probably thinks you marry a U.S. citizen and it will be a quick fix,” said Everk.

The specter of family separation and deportation also “weighs heavily” on Javier Najera, Selena Andrade, and their children. But the Texas family is now feeling more optimistic about their future following announcement of the Biden administration’s plans. They also hope that it means that Najera can one day reunite with his parents, who he hasn’t seen since leaving for the United States more than two decades ago. WFAA reports:

“There won’t be as much fear for us anymore,” Andrade said. “We’re very happy, and we hope to God that we receive this help because it’s a very long process.”

Najera, who entered the U.S. illegally, hasn’t returned to his home country of Mexico in 25 years. He said if he’s able to obtain legal status under the new policy, he looks forward to visiting his aging parents.

In Pennsylvania, retired educator Allyson Batista is also hopeful that the president’s announcement will mean security for her family. It’s a common misconception that marrying a U.S. citizen automatically confers U.S. citizenship. But as Batista and her husband would find out, the road is long, expensive, and arduous. For many couples, the three- and ten-year bars mean they can’t adjust their status without having to leave the U.S. and their families for many years. More from The Guardian

“Initially, when we got married, I was naive and thought, ‘OK, but I’m American. This isn’t going to be a problem. We’re going to fix this,’” Batista said. “I learned very early on that we were facing a pretty dire circumstance and that there would be no way for us to move forward in an immigration process successfully.”

The couple raised three children who are now pursuing higher education. Batista is waiting for the details of how her husband can apply for a green card.

“I’m hopeful,” Batista continued to The Guardian. “The next 60 days will really tell. But obviously more than thrilled because every step forward is a step towards a final resolution for all kinds of immigrant families.”


Ashley DeAzevedo, president of American Families United and the U.S. citizen spouse of an undocumented immigrant, was at the White House for the president’s announcement last week. “I don’t cry a lot,” she told CNN following the event. “But it was very hard for me to hold my emotions. I was a sobbing, crying mess listening to him speak, because he was telling my story. He was speaking about my family and all the families of the people that I love and care about.” 

She said the plan would give her husband “the ability to see his mom again for the first time in 18 years. It would give my son the ability to travel with his dad, to go meet his grandma. He’s never met her before. It would just mean a lot of things — peace of mind, never worrying after my husband gets pulled over. It’s just terrifying. If he’s late or he doesn’t answer his phone, your mind automatically goes to the worst place.”

RELATED: ‘This Would Be Life-Changing For Me’: Affected Individuals, Lawmakers, Advocates Celebrate President Biden’s Immigration Announcement 

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