Chicagoans react to President Joe Biden's expected immigration reform bill with citizenship process

Thursday, January 21, 2021
President Biden expected to introduce immigration reform bill
President Joe Biden will introduce an immigration reform bill that includes an eight-year process to citizenship.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- President Joe Biden will introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill that is expected to address millions of undocumented immigrants living America.

Some people hope the legislation will give them a pathway to citizenship.

"Today is the sunniest day we've had in a few weeks, and it's exactly how I feel. I feel like I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and not have to worry," said Ere Rendon, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient.

Rendon was brought to the United States by her parents when she was four. Her family settled in McHenry County.

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"To finally, after five years, feel like I do belong here, and I am welcomed here," Rendon said.

President Biden's executive order immediately pauses the border wall construction that was part of President Donald Trump's immigration plan. The order end emergency funding for the construction project.

"I think a shifting of priorities is key. I think that gives folks like us and the community a sort of breath of fresh air," said Irakere Picon, Illinois Business Immigration Coalition attorney.

President Biden's legislation proposes undocumented immigrants living in the United States as of Jan. 1, 2021 could have an eight-year path to citizenship. They could get temporary legal status or a green card for the first five years if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements. Then, they would go through a three-year path to naturalization if they apply to become citizens.

Adalberto United Methodist, a church that sheltered five women fighting deportation, called for a stop to deportation for 200 days.

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While there is a push for President Biden's immigration reform in Chicago, others are against it.

"It's all predicated on rewarding people who have broken laws in the past without any real plan to prevent future mass illegal immigration to the United States," said Ira Mehlman, Federation for Immigration Reform.

DACA recipients like Rendon look forward to the future.

"My parents came here to be able to give me a better future, and they have," Rendon said.