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20 years later, 'Dreamers' still await immigration reform from Congress

The immigration status of 'Dreamers' has remained an ongoing question in the U.S. for two decades. Since 2001, 11 bills regarding their immigration status have been introduced in Congress, but none have become law.
Yatciri Cruz is someone known as a 'Dreamer.' Her undocumented parents brought her to the U.S. when she was a baby and she has lived here ever since. There are 2 million 'Dreamers' in the country whose immigration status remains in limbo.
After her parents brought her here when she was a baby, Yatciri Cruz grew up in the United States, is now attending college and works as a paralegal. She has never been back to her parents' home country of Mexico and considers the U.S. to be her home. As a 'Dreamer,' her immigration status has remain "deferred" under the DACA program. However, a more permanent solution to the immigration status of 'Dreamers' has eluded Congressional passage for 20 years.
A new 'Dreamers'-related bill, H.R. 6, recently passed the House of Representatives, but faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
Posted at 10:14 AM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 13:19:31-04

YORK, Pa. — To 20-year-old Yatciri Cruz, America is home.

“I was brought to the United States when I was 9 months old,” she said. “Most of us Dreamers have gotten, came to the United States as children, not even knowing, and this is all we know.”

Cruz, who goes to college and works as a paralegal, is one of 2 million people living in the country and legally allowed to work, known as Dreamers.

“We're citizens without the title,” she said. “We're citizens without the title, without the benefit, without being recognized.”

The name Dreamers comes from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors ACT, or DREAM Act, of 2001. In the 20 years since there have been 11 versions of the bill introduced in Congress.

None have become law.

President Obama, through executive action in 2012, allowed Dreamers to apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. However, it’s just how it sounds: deferred action, with no pathway to citizenship.

Now, though, there’s hope for change.

“It's not just numbers; it's actual people this is affecting,” said Earvin Gonzalez, with CASA, an immigration advocacy organization.

Gonzalez is the services manager at CASA’s office in York, Pennsylvania.

“We provide services and community organizing,” he said.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a new Dreamers bill – H.R. 6 - that could finally give some clarity to their immigration status. It now heads to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle.

“We're very happy to see the first step passed and waiting for the full act to pass,” Gonzalez said. “So, now, it's to continue to keep that pressure-- the White House, the Senate, was all won because of these promises you made for the immigrant community, so it’s now to uphold and keep those promises that you made.”

For Yatciri Cruz, that means speaking out and sharing her story publicly.

“We have hope. We have hope,” she said. “We give our full 100 percent to this country and to our people, our community.”

It’s all in the hopes, of getting a chance to stay.