Immigration advocates hoping for positive policy changes under Biden administration

State & Regional

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — It was a day full of pageantry and tradition as President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris were sworn into office. 

VP Kamala Harris’ Inauguration outfit made by RGV native

Many people around the world are now hoping to move forward. This includes those waiting across the United States border, hoping for immigration reform under the Biden Administration.

Rodney Prepo is a 27-year-old who was recently granted asylum in the United States in March of 2020.

His journey to asylum, however, was not easy–especially with policies enacted by the Trump Administration–like MPP or the Migrant Protection Protocols.

“I had to wait 9 months for that process,” Prepo said. 

Those 9 months were all months he spent alone in Matamoros, waiting to be granted asylum.

“I arrived in [Mexico] in June of 2019 and in July they put in the MPP.”

Prepo had plans to go to Miami to live with his sister, but under this new policy he could not.

Why is Harris the 49th vice president when Biden is the 46th president?

So he had no one in Mexico, except for a few friends he met in Matamoros after arriving there from Venezuela.

“Sometimes I didn’t want to eat, I was depressed,” he said. 

But a few young kids brought him joy. They were students he was teaching through a program called the Sidewalk School in Matamoros.

Rodney Prepo teaches asylum seekers at Sidewalk School in Matamoros

The program educates and gives asylum seekers something to look forward to while their cases are pending–sometimes for months on end.

The MPP or Remain in Mexico Program is one of the policies Joe Biden has vowed to end as President.

In a previous rally, Biden said, “I  will introduce an immigration bill and have it sent to the appropriate committee. I will in fact counteract Executive Orders that the President introduced that are contrary to the interest of the United States.”

In his first day in office, Biden has signed more than a dozen executive actions–with many more expected.

Some of these policies reverse decisions made by his predecessor, Former President Donald Trump. Some of the orders, according to CBS News, “include implementing a mask mandate on federal property, increasing support for underserved communities and rejoining the Paris climate accord.

Carla Angulo-Pasel is a Political Science Professor at UTRGV. She says she expects Biden to make immigration a top priority. 

“They also want a path to green cards and permanent residency as well as citizenship.

They want to have that included in that bill so that the people who are currently here undocumented can actually achieve some sort of legal protection in the United States.”

Another immigration change experts expect to see during Joe Biden’s presidency is a greater emphasis on family unification at the border.

This–given President Trump’s 2018 zero-tolerance policy where hundreds of children were separated from their families.

“These children were brought here through coyotes, cartels and gangs,” Former President Trump said in a prior debate.

Biden has vowed to reverse this policy. 

“Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated. Now they can’t find over 500 sets of those parents and those kids are alone,” Biden said during that same debate.

Sister Norma Pimentel works on the frontlines of immigration and regularly works with families in Matamoros. She says now that President Biden is in office she expects, “A legal process that is orderly and safe for everyone, for the United States, the families, and the immigrants.”

Despite this hope, others are not so quick to believe all of Biden’s promises. Some, who remember promises made under the Obama-Biden Administration that did not come true.

President Obama was in power when a record number of deportations were seen at the time.

“Yes, the Obama Administration was known as the ‘Deporter In Chief,” Pasel said. 

Some political analysts cite a gridlock in Congress during the Obama-Biden Era as the reason why more immigration reform was not seen–despite the DACA program.

But Pasel and Pimentel are hoping immigration stays a top priority for the new administration. 

“I think in the Obama Administration, healthcare was a priority at the time and I think right now the priority is immigration.”

Another change experts expect to see during Biden’s time in office is the border wall.

Now that Biden is in office–the President says there will not be another foot of wall constructed during his administration.

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