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Photo: Maria Praeli Twitter
The six DACA recipients who met with President Joe Biden on May 14. Photo: Twitter- Maria Praeli 

Six DACA recipients meet Biden, as calls for a pathway to citizenship heat up

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President Joe Biden welcomed six recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to the Oval Office on Friday, May 14, as his administration sends the message that immigration reform remains a legislative priority.

In his address to a joint session of Congress last month, Biden urged lawmakers to put an end to the “exhausting” battle over immigration policies.

While putting forth his plan to extend citizenship to more than 11 million undocumented immigrants, he also suggested that Congress should take action to secure protections for DACA recipients, or “DREAMERS.” 

In addition to his call to create a simple and unobstructed pathway to citizenship for these 11 million undocumented immigrants, Biden has been pushing for extensive immigration reform. 

The DACA program has bipartisan support, and a bill seeking to protect recipients passed in the House earlier this year with some GOP votes. 

“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,” Biden said at the joint session.

Last month, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met with a group of essential workings living with temporary status. He heard from people that work in several fields, including manufacturing, education and healthcare. 

One man told Walsh that he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since the first day he arrived in the country.

“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,” Walsh said at the time. 

The six DACA recipients that met with Biden hail from many different countries with unique stories that need to be heard.

Maria Praeli is an immigrant rights advocate who moved to the U.S. from Peru when she was five years old, so her sister could receive medical treatment. 

“It’s extremely painful to feel so American, yet know that my future in this country is not secure,” Praeli said live on MSNBC

Esmeralda Tovar-Mora arrived in Kansas from Mexico when she was only 18 months old. Today, she juggles college and two jobs: a case manager for a mental health center and a medication aide at a nursing home. 

Tovar-Mora has a three-year-old child and her husband serves in the Kansas National Guard.

Astou Thiane, an educator and DACA activist, immigrated from Senegal when she was seven and only learned about her immigration status when she began applying for college. 

Leydy Rangel is the daughter of migrant farm workers in California. She now works at a nonprofit advocacy group that assists immigrants, farmworkers and Latinos in rural California. 

Jrayut “New” Latthivongskorn was born in Thailand, and came to the U.S. at nine-years-old. He is now a second-year medical resident in San Francisco. 

Karen Reyes’ mother brought her to the U.S. from Mexico when she was just two-years-old. Reyes now works as a kindergarten teacher for students who are deaf or hearing impaired.

United We Dream, the first and largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, took advantage of the visit to push for action, and created a petition urging Biden to create a pathway to citizenship immediately.  

“DACA remains at risk under constant Republican attacks, and millions more immigrants continue to face the threat of detention and deportation without any form of protection. This is why we’re fighting for citizenship for all,” the petition reads

If Biden sincerely wants the “exhausting war on immigration” to be over, it’s time to provide citizenship for all. 

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