Biden immigration bill offers hope to undocumented workers in Nebraska

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 10:36 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - President Biden is moving quickly to overhaul the immigration system, offering renewed hope for the tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in Nebraska.

Hours after being sworn in, Biden sent a sweeping immigration bill to Congress and signed an executive order re-establishing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, initially implemented during President Obama’s administration.

“I can finally breathe. I can set my roots. I can just go about my day without any worry about where I’m going to be in the next few years,” said Frida De La Torre, one of more than 3,600 DACA recipients in Nebraska. “Mentally, it’s just being able to go to bed without the worry of my family being uprooted, and having to just change everything in an instant.”

DACA allows people brought to the United States illegally as children to stay, a policy that came under threat during the Trump administration. Some in opposition to Biden’s plan for immigration reform say it amounts to amnesty and rewards those who came to the country illegally.

De La Torre was one of the thousands of so-called Dreamers who battled attempts to dismantle DACA.

“Putting myself back in front of the Supreme Court, it’s a lot different than it is now,” she said. “I was clawing pretty much at that point for some certainties.”

Biden’s proposed immigration bill would allow Dreamers to apply for a green card immediately, and put others who qualify on an eight-year path towards citizenship; offering hope to De La Torre and her family.

“This will be a huge step not only for them, but the other 11 million undocumented immigrants who’ve been calling the U.S. home, and who have been contributing throughout the pandemic,” said De La Torre.

“People who clean buildings, people who clean houses, people who are working in meat-packing plants,” added Sergio Sosa, executive director of Heartland Workers Center, noting immigration reform has been a long time coming.

“COVID, you know, brought those who were invisible workers to be visible,” Sosa said.

As for De La Torre, she has her sites set on finishing her degree.

“It’s a lot less stress on my shoulders, so I can finally go into the spring semester with a clear head,” she said. “I’m very optimistic.”

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