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

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Under immigration action announced by the Biden administration this week, hundreds of thousands of American families will be able to stay together and more fully contribute to their communities. Under President Biden’s plan, roughly 500,000 undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens will be eligible for a work permit, deportation protections, and a possible path to permanent residency and citizenship. 

The Biden administration also seeks to “ease the process for Dreamers to be sponsored for a work visa by their employer, and would ease the way for an eventual green card,” The New York Times reported. “It is one of the most expansive presidential actions to protect immigrants in more than a decade.” The announcement is a ray of hope for families that have been waiting for years for permanent relief from Congress. 

“One of the people that could be directly affected by the change is Ashley DeAzevedo, head of American Families United, whose husband is undocumented,” The New York Times continued. Because of his immigration status, there’s constant worry that driving for everyday tasks could lead to the family being separated, she shared. “There’s always a concern if he gets pulled over or anything like that,” DeAzevedo said. “It could be, you know, just catastrophic for our family.”

The plan would also provide relief to people like Monica Sandoval, a DACA recipient, emergency room nurse, and mom of two U.S. citizens. While she’s currently protected by the program, it’s remained under threat due to anti-immigrant litigation. “She hoped the new process would allow her employer, a regional hospital, to sponsor her for a work visa and then a green card,” The New York Times reported. “This would be life-changing for me,” she said. “It would bring security to me and my kids, and I’d know for sure that I could keep doing the work I love to do.”

The president’s announcement was also celebrated by elected officials, allies, and advocacy groups, including in a joint statement from leaders of United We Dream, CASA in Action, Make the Road New York, FWD.us, Poder Latinx, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic, National Immigration Law Center, Living United for Change in Arizona, and America’s Voice.

“For years our communities have come together to organize, strategize, and build the power needed to win protections for our loved ones. Today’s announcement is a testament to the ways in which our collective power as Black, brown, queer and undocumented people in this country has only grown despite concerted anti-immigrant attacks from Trump supporters intended to hurt us,” said Greisa Martinez Rosas, Executive Director of United We Dream. “This executive order stands as a beacon of hope,” said CASA in Action President Gustavo Torres, “ensuring approximately 1 million families find solace in safety from deportation, keeping their families together, and relief for DACA recipients. Such decisive action is a testament to the tireless advocacy and organizing of immigrant communities and organizations who have fought for years for relief.” 

Kica Matos, president of the National Immigration Law Center, said today’s announcement “represents the kind of courageous action we want and need from our elected leaders. By providing this much-needed relief, the administration has not only helped keep hundreds of thousands of families together, but also sent a clear and decisive message that immigrants are deeply rooted community members who help make America stronger.”

“I applaud President Biden for today’s truly significant announcement. It’s going to help keep hundreds of thousands of families together,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “That’s what it does: bring families together, keep them together, and it will provide peace of mind and dignity and, most of all, opportunity to contribute, so that these people can contribute to this country even more.” 

“This announcement will help make our economy stronger, as these spouses will be eligible for work permits – at a time when there is a shortage of workers in so many different professions – and give them a long-term path to stability,” Senator Schumer continued.

“Today is a happy day for many immigrant families across America. There will be tears of joy paired with sighs of relief as the significance of these executive actions by President Biden sets in for these families,” said Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Nanette Barragán. “The CHC also advocated for protections for Dreamers, so CHC is happy to see President Biden also announce new actions that will allow DACA recipients and Dreamers who have earned a U.S. college degree and have been offered high-skilled job opportunities the chance to more easily obtain work visas. These young people were brought to America at a young age, dreamed big, graduated from college, and have become part of their communities as they live the American Dream. They are our friends, neighbors, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and engineers. The United States is the only home they know.”

“President Biden recognizes the basic fairness of ensuring that U.S. citizens married to undocumented spouses can keep their families together,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Ranking Member of the Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement Subcommittee. “The President also recognizes the deep pain of DACA recipients who have been living in limbo and is ensuring he does everything possible to expand legal pathways for DACA recipients. I commend the President for these important actions that will help protect American families across the country.”

The announcement comes as the nation also marks the 12th anniversary of the DACA program. Years of personal storytelling, reporting, and data have affirmed DACA to be one of the most successful immigration policies in U.S. history. It gives its beneficiaries the ability to work legally, apply for driver’s licenses, access higher education, support themselves and their families, and build more secure lives in the only country they know as home. 

DACA beneficiaries contribute billions every single year, including $2.1 billion annually to Social Security and Medicare. We all win with common-sense immigration solutions. It’s also resoundingly popular, with 74% of Americans supporting a balanced approach to immigration. Rep. Delia Ramirez’s recent op-ed is just one example of how immigrants are deeply ingrained in our nation. Her husband is a DACA recipient. “The president has the power to give families like mine — to give partners and spouses like Boris — security, stability and their freedom to move, stay, live and thrive in the places they call home,” she wrote.

“Today’s decisive action by President Biden is a victory for American families, our economy, and our country,” said America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas. “This would not have been possible without the tireless organizing and advocacy of immigrant communities and impacted individuals. Hundreds of thousands of husbands, wives, and children can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing they are one step closer to becoming citizens of the country they have long called home. We commend President Biden for taking this much-needed step to ensure that American families stay together.”