Among the young the president will meet on Friday will be Leydy Rangel, the daughter of migrant farmworkers, and Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn, who as a fourth-year medical student was one of the plaintiffs who sued the previous administration over its termination of the DACA program. Latthivongskorn’s efforts helped secure DACA’s survival, following the Supreme Court ruling last year that the administration had unlawfully ended the program.
“I have all these big ideas about how I want to change the world and change systems around health care,” he said when initially launching his lawsuit. “The fact I might not be able to get there is troubling and frustrating.”
Biden will also meet with Esmeralda Tovar-Mora, who is also in medicine and is pursuing a nursing degree. “Maria Praeli came to the United States from Peru as a 5-year old when her sister sought medical treatment after a car accident, and now works for FWD.us, an immigration advocacy group,” NBC News said. The president will also meet with two DACA recipients involved in education. Astou Thiane has worked with Teach for America, while Karen Reyes is “a deaf education specialist working with Kindergarteners,” the report continued.
Biden in his first address to Congress last month expressed support for legalization legislation that has already passed the House with bipartisan support, including one bill that puts undocumented youth on a path to legalization. But there has been no movement yet on the Dream and Promise Act in the Senate. “Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for Dreamers, the young people who have only known America as their home,” Biden said during his address.
In a statement following his address, youth-led organization United We Dream (UWD) called on Senate Democrats to act without Republicans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has previously expressed support for passing legalization through the reconciliation process. The New York Times has reported that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has since been “actively exploring using this process (though it would ultimately require approval from the chamber’s parliamentarian).
There is also added urgency for Democrats to act as soon as possible. While the Biden administration recently announced a new rule that strengthens DACA, an anti-immigrant federal judge in Texas may again try to end the program.
“Democrats can and must add citizenship for immigrant youth, TPS holders, essential workers and farm workers to the American Jobs Plan right now, and move towards building an immigration system that recognizes immigrants’ full humanity,” UWD executive director Greisa Martinez Rosas said following Biden’s address to Congress. “That’s the vision that helped us win in November and January, and that’s how we will win citizenship for all this year.”