President Biden demonstrates support for immigrants in early days of presidency
Statement of Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa
January 26, 2021

As the granddaughter of immigrants and the Alderwoman and former State Representative of Milwaukee’s near south side – a community that has been home to countless families of Mexican, German, Puerto Rican, Polish, Hmong, and African descent, just to name a few – I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the efforts that President Biden has made during his first days in office.

With his pen, President Biden signed executive orders that will: bolster DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals); overturn an executive order from former President Trump that pushed aggressive enforcement efforts to find and deport undocumented immigrants; end the Muslim travel ban; halt construction of the wall on our U.S./Mexico border; and make sure unauthorized immigrants are counted in the 2020 Census.

Then, a day after he and Vice President Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants, were sworn into office, President Biden followed through on a campaign promise by rolling out a comprehensive immigration bill with a pathway to citizenship. This bill, if passed by Congress, would open a path to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants. Biden’s bill would even, if passed, remove the word “alien” from U.S. immigration laws, replacing it with the term “noncitizen.”

I cannot sufficiently explain in the length of this statement, as an advocate for immigrants across the great state of Wisconsin who had to listen and correct even well-intentioned people on the use of the word “illegal alien,” what this means for so many of us. I am elated, emotional and filled with so much hope for our near south side, our city and our country.

I plan to keep you apprised as the legislation progresses, but I want the community to know that this is a bill. It’s a first step in a process that will require it to pass first the House of Representatives and then the Senate before it can make it back to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

But it is a victory, too. It is as our nation’s first youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, said at last week’s inauguration: “And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken. But simply unfinished.”

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