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DACA recipients hopeful for immigration reform under Biden-Harris administration

President Biden has pledged to introduce an immigration reform bill that offers a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.

PHOENIX — On his first day in office, President Joe Biden is expected to tackle big issues, including immigration.

Details of a sweeping immigration reform bill have emerged, including addressing DACA, the Obama-era program for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as kids.

The proposals are expected to have opposition, but for Dreamers who have been fighting for reform, they’re happy it’s back on the table.

“I get really emotional”, said Reyna Montoya, one of the 103,000 DACA recipients in Arizona. “Because it’s a huge sigh of relief for the undocumented community.”

Montoya left Mexico at a young age after her parents were forced to flee the country following her father’s kidnapping. 

She spent her teens and 20s advocating for a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, something that Biden hopes to make happen.

The president is set to send legislation to Congress that would offer legal status to those who have been in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2021 — and must meet certain requirements — with a fast track pathway for DACA or TPS holders.

“I think there is a lot of excitement that this is finally possible”, said Angela Banks, ASU immigration law professor. “But it won’t be an easy task.”

Banks says Biden and Harris will need at least 10 Republicans for any reform bill to pass through Congress. 

But it won’t be in his first 100 days, as, she says, they will be dealing with Trump’s impeachment, new confirmations and coronavirus legislation.

“Although I think immigration is top of things to be address, Congress is going to be very busy,” Banks added.

For immigration advocates like Montoya, her fight will continue, as she leads her non-profit, Aliento, to help other Dreamers.

“We’re so tired of living in limbo and were only asking for an opportunity to fully be integrated into the nation and our communities that we love," said Montoya.