SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Tomas Evangelista first came to the U.S. when he was 2 years old.
His mother brought him from Mexico in pursuit of a better life.
Like many Dreamers, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients, America is the only home he’s ever known. Wednesday, when he saw Joe Biden sworn in as the 46th President, he said he felt accepted and welcomed.
“Seeing Biden not only embrace us but also protect the program means the world to us,” Evangelista said. “We want to be a part of this country. This is what we know.”
Biden kicked off his term by signing multiple executive orders on immigration, beginning with a plan that would provide a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
“It’s definitely a welcomed message to myself and other immigrants, specifically DACA recipients who have spent the last four years fighting the (Trump) administration, fighting for our lives for our right to stay here in the only country we’ve ever known as home,” Evangelista told FOX40.
The dean of the University of California, Davis’ School of Law, Kevin Johnson, agrees that President Biden’s words and actions so far set a very different tone than the previous administration.
“I think it’s clear that he’s taking a different approach to immigration than President Trump. This administration is offering a new start,” Johnson said. “One that’s accepting of immigrants, supportive of immigrants and willing to admit, frankly, that immigrants are important to our economy, to our society and to our community.”
Among the newly-signed executive orders are the rollback of Trump’s travel ban and construction halt on the southern border wall.
Johnson noted that fixing the country’s immigration system is not a one-step solution and will require compromise from both parties.
“It’s clear that it’s a divisive political issue and the discussion and dialogue is going to be lengthy,” Johnson told FOX40. “It’s going to be hard at times but it’s necessary if we really want to address the issues posed by immigration. And I think the Biden/Harris administration has created the possibility for reasonable discussions of the issue.”
But Wednesday night, there was hope that a permanent, bipartisan solution can be achieved.
“Tomorrow, the work begins. We got to continue working and moving forward together,” Evangelista said.
President Biden sent the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 to Congress, which would provide undocumented immigrants an eight-year pathway to citizenship. It’s something that would need 60 votes to pass in the U.S. Senate.
Another executive order rolls back President Trump’s plan to exclude immigrants in the U.S. illegaly from the census count.