President Joe Biden will meet Friday with six immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, all of whom are Dreamers — protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — a group that the president has promised to protect and a program he hopes to fortify.
Biden has pushed for sweeping immigration reform, a core tenet of which is his call to create a path to citizenship for the 11 million people living undocumented in the U.S.
That includes people with temporary status, such as Dreamers, plus farmworkers and others who received protection in the U.S. due to humanitarian need.
Both Democrats and Republicans support the DACA program, and a bill to protect them passed the House earlier this year with some GOP votes.
In his joint address to Congress last month, Biden called on lawmakers to pass segments of his larger reform proposal sooner than later.
“Let's end our exhausting war over immigration,” he said. “If you don't like my plan, let's at least pass what we all agree on. Congress needs to pass legislation this year and finally secure protection for Dreamers.”
The meeting with DACA recipients comes as the administration continues to quietly push for broader reform, especially to help people who have been working in the U.S. for years.
Last month, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met with a group of essential workers living with temporary status.
He heard from people who work in manufacturing, teachers and health aides. One man told Walsh that the first night he had a good night’s sleep was the day he arrived in the United States.
“I want you to know that you are in my heart,” Walsh told them. “I don't say things that I don't believe, and I will do everything I can in my power to make sure that we take care of an issue that should have been taken care of 20, 30 years ago that hasn't been. America is a country created by immigrants.”
Those invited to Friday’s meeting, according to the White House, include:
- Maria Praeli, an immigrant rights advocate who moved to the U.S. from Peru when she was 5 so her sister could receive medical treatment.
- Esmeralda Tovar-Mora, who arrived in Kansas from Mexico when she was only 18 months old. She is attending college while working as a case manager for a mental health center and a medication aide at a nursing home. She is the mother of a 3-year-old, and her husband serves in the Kansas National Guard.
- Astou Thiane, an educator and DACA advocate, who immigrated from Senegal when she was 7 and only learned of her immigration status when she was applying for college.
- Leydy Rangel, the daughter of migrant farm workers in California. She now works with a nonprofit advocacy group assisting immigrants, farm workers and Latinos in rural California.
- Jrayut “New” Latthivongskorn, who came from Thailand when he was 9 and is now a second-year medical resident in San Francisco.
- Karen Reyes, whose mother brought her to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 2. She is now a kindergarten teacher for students who are hard of hearing or deaf.