LYNCHBURG, Va. – Honduran immigrant Ninfa Amador is living out her American dream, but her legal status is putting limitations on opportunities, such as financial aid for college. She’s a political science major at Randolph College in Lynchburg.
“Seeing those options being limited in terms of the finances of it... was a real hardship and heartbreaking at times,” said Amador. “That’s a real hurdle you have to go through.”
Amador is undocumented.
She, her parents and her younger siblings fled Honduras when she was five.
Now, at the age of 21, there is some hope for the so-called “Dreamers,” or immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.
Thursday night, the House of Representatives passed part of a major immigration reform bill that would eventually provide a pathway to citizenship for about 2.5 million young undocumented immigrants.
Amador joined other immigrants and advocates in Washington, D.C., to drum up support and watch the vote come down for the American Dream and Promise Act.
The gathering at the National Mall was organized by the nonprofit United We Dream. The small group chanted, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom.”
Amador said it was important for her to be there.
“It’s just representing; just being there and showing Congress or Biden, anyone that there is people being affected by this and that we do care and that we support this,” she said.
The bill still has to pass the U.S Senate, and with a surge in migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border, opponents don’t seem entirely convinced that now is the best time to pass immigration reform.
But Amador remains hopeful.
“Having the freedom to be able to live your life how you want to, to being in this country we are in that is known for its liberties, that way it shows the government doesn’t really care about these individuals even though they contribute to economy, to the communities,” Amador said. “It’s not regarding them as a whole person. It’s not giving them the opportunity to have them live their lives as they would. This bill, having citizenship, that would magically make everything disappear and you could your freedom to live your life how you want to.”
If passed into law, the Dream Act would also give more than 4 million eligible immigrants who are Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and Deferred Enforced Departure beneficiaries legal permanent residence in the country.
Meanwhile, Amador said she’ll continue pushing for broader immigration reform for all immigrants.
“There are many more undocumented immigrants, or immigrants overall,” she said. “We hope that we can continue pushing for broader immigration reform and broader bills that encompass everyone.”
The House also passed another immigration bill Thursday. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would provide hundreds of thousands of farmworkers living in the country illegally to receive a temporary legal status if they’ve worked at least 180 days in the last two years. Eligible workers would also receive green cards if they meet certain criteria.