SEATTLE — Mario Rodríguez says a surge of relief came over him the day President Joe Biden was inaugurated.
No longer does the Pacific County 53-year-old worry that people are following him, as he did for years after getting picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in 2017, shocking locals like the police chief who knew him as a crime tipster and bilingual educator. Agents were following immigrants suspected of living in the U.S. without legal permission as the Trump administration ramped up ICE enforcement, ensnaring well-regarded residents and workers who in previous years were not considered a deportation priority.
From day one, Biden launched a complete turnaround in immigration policy. His administration announced new priorities — expanded upon last month — that dramatically scale back ICE enforcement by focusing on public safety threats, as in the tail end of the Obama administration. Biden sent a sweeping bill to Congress, introduced last month also, that would allow most immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission to apply for citizenship in eight years and just three for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who came to the U.S. as children.
“I know there is a path for us,” said Rodríguez, who has been practicing online citizenship tests since coming to the U.S. from Mexico 17…