President-elect Joe Biden wants to restore DACA once he takes office. Advocates in Georgia say that should only be the beginning of Biden’s plan on immigration.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was passed via executive order by then-President Barack Obama in 2012. It’s only a temporary solution for certain undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country since they were children.
“It’s most definitely an important first step on Day One to do,” says Brenda Lopez Romero, an immigration attorney and state lawmaker in Georgia’s House of Representatives. “But that is by far, far, far from where we need to be in terms of really mobilizing action for positive immigration reform.”
She says she also wants to see the parents of DACA recipients have a path to citizenship.
On Monday, Biden chose Alejandro Mayorkas as his nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security. The federal agency oversees immigration. Under President Obama, Mayorkas helped create the DACA program.
DACA allows recipients to obtain renewable work permits and live in the United States without the fear of being deported. Nationally, more than 640,000 DACA recipients live in the United States.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are about 20,000 DACA recipients in Georgia.
“It’s on us to hold the Biden administration accountable,” says Raymond Partolan, a former DACA recipient and immigration paralegal at Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC in Georgia. “And to ensure that at the top of his agenda the protection of all 11 million undocumented people here in the United States whether or not they are DACA recipients.”
Partolan says that the focus should also be on Congress to provide immigration reform.
“We have two runoff elections here in the state of Georgia on Jan. 5 that could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate,” he says.
Though Partolan is pleased with Biden as the president-elect, he says the goal is to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
“It’s not going to happen if we don’t continue to pressure this administration that’s set to begin on Jan. 20.”