Biden presidency 1 year in: Youth disappointed on immigration Young people helped mobilize voters for President Biden. Many now feel Biden hasn't pushed hard enough to deliver on the immigration goals he set.

A year after mobilizing for Biden, young supporters feel let down on immigration

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

On his first day in office, President Biden took swift action on immigration, signing an executive order to halt construction of the border wall. And he unveiled a plan to put millions of undocumented immigrants on a path to citizenship. But a year later, many of his immigration efforts are stalled, frustrating supporters and energizing opponents ahead of the midterm elections.

With more, here's White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Yair Castellanos and his family watched Joe Biden's inauguration from their home in North Carolina with a sense of relief.

YAIR CASTELLANOS: In the beginning, like, we really had him, like, at this pedestal. Like, he's going to do so much for us.

ORDOÑEZ: The 20-year-old, an undocumented immigrant, thought maybe he'd have a better chance to go to college with Biden in office. He hoped Biden would fight for a path to citizenship and also push for other protections, like work permits for him and his parents.

CASTELLANOS: And then just little things, like no reform coming out, nothing being pushed, no little steps, like the license or the permits - no anything, really.

ORDOÑEZ: Young people like Castellanos helped mobilize voters for Joe Biden even when they couldn't vote themselves. And many now feel let down by President Biden and the Democrats, who they feel haven't pushed hard enough to deliver on the promises made.

GREISA MARTINEZ ROSAS: Young people are not - our votes are not just some ATM machine that Democrats could come and get votes out of automatically without feeling like they have to work for it.

ORDOÑEZ: Greisa Martinez Rosas, the executive director of United We Dream, points to key parts of former President Donald Trump's policies that Biden has kept in place, including a pandemic order allowing the U.S. to turn away most migrants and another requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico until their court dates.

MARTINEZ ROSAS: It's easy to promise us something when we're in the midst of a difficult and historic moment like the Trump administration. But what really defines someone's character is what they're able to do beyond their words and actually deliver.

ORDOÑEZ: The administration has cited the ongoing pandemic for keeping the health policy and says the courts prevented them from ending the Remain in Mexico policy. They say they're still working with Congress on other measures. White House spokesman Vedant Patel added that Biden ended the travel ban on several Muslim countries. He also scrapped Trump's rule that made it harder for people receiving government benefits to obtain green cards.

ALI NOORANI: The expectations for the Biden administration are really, really high when it came to immigration.

ORDOÑEZ: That's Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum. He says Biden has taken some positive steps. But with the midterms approaching, he's also urging the administration to think beyond its base and reach out to more independent voters who oppose Trump's harsh policies but still have concerns about the border.

NOORANI: And not address immigration as if it's only an issue of concern or importance to the left.

ORDOÑEZ: And that's where Republicans also see an opportunity.

Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist who has advised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, says immigration, particularly the border, is a chance for Republicans to draw a bright line.

SCOTT JENNINGS: Biden campaigned as a competent moderate. You can trust me. The adults are back in charge - you know, that sort of vibe. And I don't think anybody is looking at the border saying, yeah, the adults are back in charge.

ORDOÑEZ: As for Castellanos, he knows things could be worse if Trump were still in office or if he runs again.

CASTELLANOS: If Trump comes back in, that's going to be that pressure that was on for those four years of, oh no, what if one day my mom is driving and she gets pulled over? Like, I may never see her again.

ORDOÑEZ: So he says he's just trying to make the best of the situation he has.

Franco Ordoñez, NPR News, the White House.

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