LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – For Andrea Figueroa, born in Peru and now living in Southern California, the path to American citizenship has been a long one.
“It’s been about 19 years since I arrived in this country,” said Figueroa.READ MORE: OC Receives More Than 83,000 COVID-19 Vaccine Doses In Single Day
Figueroa was able to complete her United States citizenship ceremony in El Cajon, California, from her car.
While the event would usually be a celebration with friends and family watching from the audience, drive-thru ceremonies are happening during the pandemic in order to practice safe social distancing.
“It’s such an important moment,” said Figueroa. “You only become a citizen once.”
Figueroa is hopeful for fellow immigrants looking to become U.S. citizens now that President Joe Biden has taken office.
President Biden is advocating for the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 — a broad immigration bill that, if passed by Congress, could legalize millions of undocumented immigrants.
Mayor Eric Garcetti praised the plan, calling it ‘a return to dignity’ on Twitter Wednesday.READ MORE: Stretch Of 5 Freeway In Norwalk Area To Close During Construction
A path to citizenship. A return to dignity. A renewed commitment to immigrant rights.@POTUS Biden's plan to put 11 million immigrants –– family members, neighbors, Dreamers, TPS holders, and essential workers –– on a path to citizenship is a portrait of American values. pic.twitter.com/GA7FTSG9yI
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) January 21, 2021
“It includes a lot more then just this pathway to residency so that’s one thing to keep in mind for folks who might be critical of this,” said Camila Alvarez, the legal director for Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). “There’s also things in there about making sure the border is secure and making sure there’s enforcement of drug traffickers.”
Biden has already signed an executive order to safeguard the DACA program – a program President Trump tried to suspend. It protects roughly 640,000 people from deportation.
“We made the United States of America with migrants from everywhere,” said David Chan, a resident of L.A. of Mexican descent. “We have to start treating everybody nice.”MORE NEWS: People Making A Difference: Nonprofit Connects Artists With Those In Need
The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants but ultimately it is Congress who will decide what the bill will look like.