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Over 8K Utahns Among Millions Hopeful For New Immigration Bill

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Big changes are in the works for immigrant and undocumented communities following actions taken by both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

Some of those actions culminated in a bill that was sent to Congress on Biden’s first day as president.

This gave a new glimmer of hope to thousands who received temporary protection from deportation and permission to legally work under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, including Yanely Cid Aguilar, whose husband is deployed in South Korea.

“Every time the national anthem gets played, it makes me really emotional,” she said. “Like, emotional, teary-eyed just because, to me, this is all I know.”

She was brought to the United Sates as a child with no legal status. That made it impossible for her to leave the country — even if it’s to be with her soldier husband.

About 8,500 people like Aguilar live in Utah.

Biden’s bill creates a path to permanent legal status for undocumented youth.

“What’s being presented is that ‘Dreamers’ and other people with some type of protected status already approved, already vetted in their criminal history, could already apply for residency,” said immigration attorney Jonathan Shaw.

The bill also includes major provisions for other immigrants in the country.

“For 99% of the world’s population, there is no line,” Shaw said. “This concept that these people should be getting in line or we’re putting them at the front of the line — this line doesn’t exist. But it can exist if we work through this bill, and maybe there are some changes made.”

Thousands of Central American migrants were en route to the U.S.-Mexico border, hopeful the new administration would more lenient toward immigrants. But Shaw said the bill wouldn’t apply to them — they would have had to have been at the border before Jan. 1.

“Part of this would be getting the message out to caravans and different groups of people forming to come to the United States that you don’t even qualify at this point,” Shaw said.

The bill does include provisions for tighter security at the border, and Shaw said he believes it would ultimately lower illegal immigration.

“People would be seeking to do things the right way because now there is a right way,” he said.

Shaw also said immigration attorneys have been busy lately following a move by the former president on his way out of the White House.

In his last moments as commander-in-chief, Trump granted work permits and protection from deportation for 18 months for Venezuelan immigrants.

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