AUSTIN, Texas — An undocumented immigrant living in Austin had a chance to meet directly with President Joe Biden at the White House and push for immigration reform. Karen Reyes, 32, is a special education teacher at Galindo Elementary in south Austin. She happens to be a Deferred Action […]
AUSTIN, Texas — An undocumented immigrant living in Austin had a chance to meet directly with President Joe Biden at the White House and push for immigration reform.
Karen Reyes, 32, is a special education teacher at Galindo Elementary in south Austin. She happens to be a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. Although she’s had DACA protection since 2012, she says the program is unstable and constantly under threat.
“We're living our lives two years at a time. We renew our work permits two years at a time, and so we're in this constant state of limbo where even the basic things like, 'Hey, can I buy a house? Can I have some stability?' It doesn't exist,” she said.
That's the reason getting to visit with the president was immensely significant.
“I never in a million years imagined that I would be going to the Oval Office, especially after the last four years where our immigrant community was under constant attack with such anti-immigrant rhetoric,” she said.
Immigrant rights advocacy group, United We Dream, invited Reyes and five other DACA recipients from across the country to this high profile meeting. Reyes says it was also important to raise awareness about immigrants outside of the DACA population.
“We have millions of other people who are undocumented in this country. And so it was only six of us in there telling our stories. I wanted to bring some of their stories into the space and I did,” said Reyes.
The president tweeted out a picture from the Oval Office with the six Dreamers, reaffirming his support for the community.
“He stayed longer than our allotted time talking with us and hearing our stories and having a conversation with us,” said Reyes.
Immigration reform is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate where Democrats are trying to whip up 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles expected to be launched by Senate Republicans.
In the meantime, Reyes hopes the West Wing meeting left an impression on Biden.
“This is a space that's not designed for people that look like me,” she said. “I was able to go into this space as an undocumented immigrant, and say ‘here's why this is so important Mr. President. We need action, we need relief, we need a pathway towards citizenship,’ and to have him listen to that. It's just so powerful.”