Since 2012, President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Executive Order (DACA) has allowed immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children an opportunity to apply for a driver's license, a work permit, and a social security number.
Obama's mandate was supposed to be a temporary solution for the group known as the DREAMers, and while there is bipartisan support for a permanent solution for this group of immigrants, nothing has ever passed both chambers of Congress. There are currently about 800,000 individuals benefitting from the DACA program who must renew their permits every two years.
"It's very tough, very stressful to continue to try and plan your life every two years," DACA recipient Hilario Yanez told CBN News. "I can't imagine me being here without having God by my side."
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Yanez says his mother brought him to the U.S. when he was a one-year-old, and it wasn't until he was in high school and started to apply for colleges that he learned he didn't have a social security number. DACA gave Yanez the opportunity to attend the University of Houston where he became the first member of his family to graduate from college.
"I was able to pay taxes. I was able to support myself and stand on my own two feet, pay my way through college," Yanez said.
But the policy wasn't designed to be a long-term solution.
"You have to live on the edge," Yanez explained. "Because this is a temporary solution and the administrations do change, it's really up to the president to decide whether or not to keep the program in place."
The Trump administration tried to phase out the program by not accepting new applicants and encouraged Congress to act instead, an approach Yanez said he supported.
"I actually supported that approach because it forced Congress to do its job because at the end of the day we want a permanent solution," Yanez noted. "Congress always works in chaos."
But even under pressure nothing came about, and on January 20, 2021, newly inaugurated President Joe Biden ordered the DACA program be restored until Congress acts.
The House has already passed the Dream Act that provides a pathway to citizenship for the DREAMers. But with the current situation at the border, even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who has co-sponsored the bill in the Senate for years is unlikely to support it.
"Biden has lost control of the U.S. Mexican border. Until he regains control and implements policies that work, it's going to be very hard to do the Dreamers or anybody else," said Graham at a press conference this month.
Yanez agrees with Graham that border security needs to be addressed, too.
"I think it's time for us to stop pointing the finger at each other and start working together," Yanez said. "When it comes to immigration there needs to be a balance of truth and law, but also compassion and love."
Yanez said he sympathizes with the families currently coming across the U.S. southern border.
"My heart goes for the kids. My heart goes for the families because, in reality, my mom did the same thing," he explained. "My mom did everything she could. She risked her life. She risked my life to come to the United States, so I am those kids."
Even though the House passed the Dream Act and President Biden supports it, Yanez isn't confident a permanent solution for the DREAMers will get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate in the next two years.
"In the past, I've been very hopeful, but also I've been very realistic, and so I've learned to keep a guard up," said Yanez. "Unfortunately I don't see anything passing before the midterm elections."