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Young people disappointed with immigration: NPR

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Young people disappointed with immigration: NPR

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Immigration activists gather near the White House on October 7, 2021. The group demonstrated for immigration reform and urged President Biden to allow a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

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Young people disappointed with immigration: NPR

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Immigration activists gather near the White House on October 7, 2021. The group demonstrated for immigration reform and urged President Biden to allow a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden acted quickly on his first day in office and reversed many of his predecessor’s tough immigration policies.

He signed an executive order to halt construction of the southern border wall, lifted travel bans on several predominantly Muslim countries and unveiled a plan to put millions of undocumented immigrants on the path to citizenship.

But a year later, that legislation has come to nothing and many of his other efforts have stalled, frustrating supporters and energizing opponents ahead of the midterm elections.

“At first we really had him on that pedestal, like he was going to do so much for us,” said Yair Castellanos, a 20-year-old undocumented immigrant who works as a community organizer.

From their home in North Carolina, Castellanos and his family watched Biden’s inauguration with a sense of relief. He thought he might have a better chance of going to college with Biden in power. He hoped Biden would fight for a path to citizenship and also push for other protections, like work permits for himself and his parents.

“And then just little things like, no, no reform comes out, nothing gets pushed,” Castellanos said. “No small steps like licensing or permits. No… anything… really.

Young people disappointed with immigration: NPR

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Yair Castellanos had high hopes for Biden’s presidency. The 20-year-old undocumented man says he is disappointed with the lack of progress on immigration.

Courtesy of Yair Castellanos


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Young people disappointed with immigration: NPR

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Yair Castellanos had high hopes for Biden’s presidency. The 20-year-old undocumented man says he is disappointed with the lack of progress on immigration.

Courtesy of Yair Castellanos

Young people like Castellanos helped mobilize voters for Biden, even when they couldn’t vote themselves. Many now feel let down by Biden and the Democrats, who they say have not pushed hard enough to deliver on the promises made.

Greisa Martínez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream, said Democrats cannot treat young people like an ATM for votes “without feeling like they have to work for it”.

Martínez says Democrats need to fight harder for legislation to protect the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, and she points to key elements of former President Donald Trump’s policies that Biden has kept in place , including a pandemic order allowing the United States to turn away most migrants, and another requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico until their court date.

“It’s easy to promise us something when we’re in the midst of a difficult and historic time like the Trump administration,” she said. “But what really defines someone’s character is what they are able to do beyond their words and actually deliver.”

The Biden administration has cited the ongoing pandemic for maintaining the health policy, known as Title 42, and argues that the courts have blocked the administration from ending the so-called stay-in-Mexico policy.

White House officials say they are continuing to work on measures that would protect and provide work permits for families like Castellanos’.

White House spokesman Vedant Patel said Biden reversed many of the previous administration’s harmful policies, including ending the ban on travel to Muslim-majority countries and scrapping the rule of Trump that made it harder for people receiving government benefits to get green cards. He also created a task force to help reunite families separated by the Trump administration.

“The president has made it clear that restoring order, fairness and humanity to our immigration system is a priority for this administration,” Patel told NPR in a statement. “Our immigration system is outdated and in dire need of reform; but this administration is committed to working day in and day out to bring relief to immigrants and bring our immigration system into the 21st century.”

Young people disappointed with immigration: NPR

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President Biden holds his first White House press conference on March 25, 2021. He faced many questions about whether his policies were contributing to an increase in migration.

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Young people disappointed with immigration: NPR

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President Biden holds his first White House press conference on March 25, 2021. He faced many questions about whether his policies were contributing to an increase in migration.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The reality is that the Biden administration came in with very high expectations, says Ali Noorani of the National Forum on Immigration. He said actions taken by the administration on the issue, such as focusing immigration enforcement on threats to public safety, will lead to further improvements in the future.

But, as the midterms near, Noorani is also urging the administration to think beyond its base and reach out to more independent voters — and even some conservatives — who have opposed government policies. tough immigration policy but still have concerns about the southern border.

“President Biden needs to come back to those voters and say, ‘You know what? I will offer constructive and pragmatic solutions on immigration,’” Noorani said. “And don’t approach immigration as if it’s only a matter of concern or importance to the left.”

And that’s where Republicans also see an opportunity.

Prominent Republicans, like Texas Governor Greg Abbott, have traveled to the border and made the issue a regular part of their election or re-election campaigns.

They attribute the influx of migrants to the border to Biden’s approach, including rolling back some of Trump’s border policies.

Biden’s challenges are reflected in the surveys. A recent Morning Consult/Politico poll found 56% of registered voters disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration, while a CNBC/Change Research poll found 69% disapprove of his handling of the issue.

Scott Jennings, a GOP strategist who advised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said immigration was a chance for Republicans to draw a “clear line.”

“Biden campaigned as a competent moderate — ‘Trust me, the adults are back in charge’ — you know, that kind of vibe,” Jennings said. “And I don’t think anyone looking at the border is going to say, ‘Yeah, the adults are back in charge. “

As for Castellanos, he’s just trying to make the best of the situation he’s in. He knows things could be worse if Trump was still in office — or if he runs again.

“If Trump comes back, it’s going to be that pressure that’s been going on for those four years of, ‘Oh no, what if one day my mom was driving and she got pulled over, like I might never see her again? “,” Castellanos said. “While if maybe Biden is still in the presidency, I’m not as scared of that happening.”

Young people disappointed with immigration: NPR

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