As Frida Islas navigates her last four months as a High School senior, she’s confident she has done everything in her power to secure a better future. The 17-year-old student is top ten in her class, has interviewed with Harvard University and has applied to private and Ivy League schools.
Now, her hope lies with the DACA program. She submitted her application as soon as a court ordered the Trump Administration to fully reopen the program last year.
On his first day in office, President Biden signed a memorandum directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. attorney general to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Islas says she has faith that the Biden administration will provide her permanent status to continue her education and become a psychologist.
“I feel very relieved and very hopeful for the future. I hope that I can have a lot of more opportunities than I had, that I didn’t have these last four years,” said Islas.
Lizbeth Mateo, an undocumented immigration attorney has been through the ups and downs of immigration reform. She was able to attend law school, passed her bar exam and has been practicing law for five years.
“I’m cautiously optimistic by the Biden administration. I think that it’s great that we no longer have Trump in office because the last four years have been brutal for immigrants, for immigration attorneys, for anyone who cares about people’s rights and human decency,” she said.
In 2016, Mateo’s petition for DACA was denied. She says it’s in the hands of congress to give the so-called Dreamers the path to citizenship.
“If Congress has the willingness to solve this issue and pass the DREAM Act, pass some kind of legislation to provide dreamers with a pathway to legalization, they can do it. But I don’t know whether they have that willingness necessarily,” she said.
President Biden’s plan for Dreamers calls for immediate eligibility for a green card and a path for citizenship three years later.
36-year-old Mateo insists the president’s intentions are not enough without action.
“Right now, we have a president who’s willing to enforce immigration law, hopefully, hopefully in a more humane way. But those are minor changes that don’t, at the end of the day, don’t actually give us papers, don’t actually give us the freedom that we need,” she said.
(Production: Alan Devall / Norma Galeana)