President Joe Biden is taking the time to learn about the struggles and accomplishments of immigrants in this country. Immigration reform was one of his biggest campaign promises in addition to pandemic relief.
Karen Reyes is a 32-year-old teacher who lives in Austin, and she’s had protection through DACA since 2012. With her legal status comes constant uncertainty and anxiety.
“We’re living our lives two years at a time. We renew our work permits two years at a time, and so we’re in this constant state of limbo where even the basic things like, ‘Hey, can I buy a house? Can I have some stability?’ It doesn’t exist,” she said.
Speaking to the president of the country Reyes seeks citizenship to live in was immensely significant.
“I never in a million years imagined that I would be going to the Oval Office, especially after the last four years where our immigrant community was under constant attack with such anti-immigrant rhetoric,” Reyes said.
In 2016, the election of Donald Trump was devastating to many Latino citizens and immigrants due to his xenophobia and strict limitations on immigrant rights. Unlike previous years, undocumented immigrants could be sent to detention centers and then deported simply for being in the country, even if they were productive and law-abiding members of society.
United We Dream, an immigrant rights advocacy group, was the organization that invited Reyes along with five other DACA recipients to meet with the current president. Reyes feels that immigrants that are not here through DACA often get forgotten, and she wants non-DACA-related immigrants to also be heard.
“We have millions of other people who are undocumented in this country. And so it was only six of us in there telling our stories. I wanted to bring some of their stories into the space and I did,” said Reyes.
The president has been vocal in his support for the DACA and immigrant community. According to Reyes, the time he spent speaking to them ran over their allotted amount for the day, and this made her feel like President Biden really valued their conversation.
Those seeking legal immigration help in Los Angeles hope that the democratic-majority government opens more doors for them in the future.
“We need action, we need relief, we need a pathway towards citizenship,’ and to have him listen to that. It’s just so powerful,” said Reyes, who may be looking for a naturalization attorney in Los Angeles in the future.