CLEVELAND — Executive Director of Hola Ohio, Veronica Dahlberg, says she is liking what she's seeing so far from the Biden administration, specifically the decision to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program protects about 800,000 people, who came to the United States as children, from being deported. However, Dahlberg says since DACA has not truly provided stable reassurance since it was introduced in 2012.
“He's saying that for at least the next four years, we're going to make sure that you don't have to worry about this program,” she said.
But the president’s immigration plan doesn’t stop there.
The immigration bill unveiled this week offers a pathway to citizenship for some 11 million people who would be required to pay taxes, and pass background checks. We’re told most would wait eight years, but those enrolled in DACA, fleeing dangerous countries and farmworkers would only wait three years. In order to qualify, participants had to have been in the United States by the first of the year.
According to Dahlberg, the bill could be a boon to Ohio’s immigrant population.
“Ohio is an agricultural state, one of our top industries that employs tens of thousands of farm workers that are considered essential workers and yet they're exposed all the time to detention, deportation, separated from their families, even as they're out there harvesting and planting the food that we eat, vegetables that are grown all over the state of Ohio,” she explained.
The legislation will face intense scrutiny in congress where republicans are questioning the president's priorities.
"I was disappointed to see within hours of assuming office, the new administration was more interested in helping illegal immigrants than helping our own citizens,” said Kevin McCarthy, Republican House Minority Leader.
Ohio Representative Jim Jordan reacted on Twitter saying, "Stop building the wall. Stop deportations of criminals. Open borders. What's next?"
Still, this legislation is one Dahlberg says America needs right now as opposed to another round-up of executive action.
“What we really need is that comprehensive immigration reform. We need legislation,” she said.
The bill also calls for more technology at land crossing, airports and seaports.