(CBS4) – There is hope and hesitation amongst some of Colorado’s immigrant communities following President Joe Biden’s immigration bill signed during his first day in office. After decades of uncertainty when it comes to immigration reform, they hope the new administration will work with immigrant rights organizations for change they say is long overdue.
Kevin Omana-Mendoza’s family immigrated from Mexico to the United States in the 90s. The DACA recipient, and Legal Services Manager for the Colorado Immigrant Right Coalition, knows every immigrant’s story is unique.READ MORE: Bill To Reduce Standardized Testing Load For Colorado Students Passes Out Of Committee
“Lack of access to work, unstable government conditions, and a lot of external factors led to us seeking a better life,” Omana-Mendoza said.
Biden signed an executive action on immigration during his first day in office. It includes a proposed eight-year pathway to citizenship for people living in the U.S. without legal status. It also defends a DREAMers program for undocumented young Americans, makes changes to Trump’s arrest priorities for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and stops border wall construction, among other orders.
“We’re still very conscious of the history, and the scars that we have physically, mentally, and emotionally that are going to take a long time to heal,” Omana-Mendoza said. “For us in hearing the plan, it’s one of those things where it’s now us making sure that as we go through and fight for this, we hold everyone accountable.”
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition Executive Director Lisa Duran shares similar reservations.READ MORE: Man Killed In Hit & Run In Denver's Westwood Neighborhood
“I have hope, but I’m very sober,” Duran told CBS4’s Andrea Flores. “This is going to be a fight, we are ready to engage in that fight, and we want to work as closely as possible with our entire congressional delegation to see something that really is meaningfully impactful in immigrant communities as quickly as possible.”
Duran says the road to reform won’t be easy.
“There are a number of people in Congress, and in the Senate, who agreed with President Trump’s approach to immigration. I find that to be a travesty because I believe that approach violated the human and civil rights of people among us,” said Duran. “At the same time, I know that business and other institutions in our communities understand that we need immigration reform and overhaul. It’s better for the economy, but it’s also better for the human rights of all people that are impacted by this legislation.”
For now, DREAMers like Kevin are cautiously optimistic.
“We believe that naturalization and adjustment of status isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a human rights issue,” he said. “For us to hear that there’s still political aspects attached, shows us that the change in power doesn’t automatically mean a change in ideology.”MORE NEWS: Colorado Day Of Remembrance Honors Those Who Lost Their Lives To COVID