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Years ago, immigration talks between President George W. Bush and then-President of Mexico Vicente Fox lasted too long, and after the 9/11 attacks, any hope of an agreement was dashed. President Barack Obama failed to present his immigration reform proposal in 2009 when his party controlled both houses of Congress and the country was in grave financial crisis; later he didn’t have enough votes to say goodbye. President Biden shouldn’t take such risks. He should hurry up.
To demonstrate his concern for the subject, Mr. Biden recently met with a group of “Dreamers” at the White House. The meeting was extraordinary in itself. These young people were illegally brought to the USA by their parents and are exempt from deportation through the “Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals” program. A meeting like this during the Trump era would have been unthinkable.
María Praeli, 28, is one of the dreamers who met Mr. Biden. She was 5 years old when she was brought to the United States from Peru. The United States “is my home,” she told me. “It’s really hard to feel so American, to have so many memories of this country and yet not know whether I can shape a future for myself here. I just hope this is the year something happens. “
One of Mr. Biden’s first acts after taking office was to submit a comprehensive immigration proposal to Congress. And according to a Quinnipiac University poll published in February, most Americans support a path to citizenship for the undocumented. But that proposal and similar bills get stuck on Capitol Hill.
Democrats are still lacking the votes to overturn current Senate rules, which actually require proponents of most bills to muster 60-vote super majorities to move them forward. The only way out is to end the power of the minority party, block laws – the filibuster – and pass very concrete laws for the benefit of dreamers and migrant workers through a procedural budget cut called reconciliation. Both issues are politically aggressive and would meet with great opposition from Republicans. But it is time we made radical choices to protect the lives of millions of immigrants like María.
President Biden, the clock is ticking. Please don’t wait any longer. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Jorge Ramos (@jorgeramosnews) is an anchor for the Univision network, a contributing opinion maker and author of most recently “Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era”.
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