9 years after DACA, Congress considers path to citizenship for dreamers

Jun 16, 2021, 4:45 AM
DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18, 2020 in Washi...
DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Nearly a decade after a temporary program was announced to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation, Congress is considering a bill that would provide a permanent solution.

This week marks nine years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was announced under the Barack Obama administration. It allows young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to stay and work in the U.S.

Opponents argue the DACA program encourages illegal immigration and that President Obama did not have the legal authority to create it.

The latest federal data show more than 34,400 DACA recipients live in Arizona. Josue Andonaegui of Phoenix is one of them.

“Right now I have so much stability that I never thought that I would have,” the 27-year-old told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

He said the program helped motivate him to go to college and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also was able to get a job as director of Poder Latinx, an advocacy group that mobilizes Latino voters to get involved in various issues.

Andonaegui added that while the DACA program has made it possible for him to reach educational and professional goals, he fears for the program’s future as it continues to be challenged in court.

A federal judge in Texas is expected to soon rule on a 2018 lawsuit that challenges the legality of the DACA program.

Meanwhile, a bill that would create a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and others also brought to the U.S. as children inches closer to passing in Congress.

The American Dream and Promise Act was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives in March. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing over the bill.

Andonaegui said he feels confident the bill will pass and be signed into law.

“In a personal way, it would benefit me so much,” he said. “But also being able to have the privilege to vote one day would mean the world to me.”

Some members of Congress oppose the bill because it does not include border security provisions.

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9 years after DACA, Congress considers path to citizenship for dreamers