DENVER (KDVR) — Coloradans like Efrain Leal Escalera have been holding their breath for the past four years.
“It’s been so much uncertainty, fear and anxiety,” Escalera said. “I’m an undocumented Mexican immigrant. I’m from northern Mexico.”
He’s a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA, having to renew his status every two years. But with a new administration, Escalera is hopeful he won’t be living in a constant state of limbo.
“There’s definitely hope,” Escalera said. “I feel it in the air. I feel it in my colleagues at work, I feel it on social media.”
On his first day, President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders, including ending a travel ban on majority Muslim countries, and stopping construction of the wall on the southern border with Mexico.
He also pushed a plan for Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but the sentiment is easier said than done, according to immigration professors.
“The big question here is whether the Biden-Harris administration is going to be able to work with congress successfully, work with congress to enact some permanent, lasting laws that provide legal status,” said University of Denver professor César García Hernández.
Biden also took major action towards addressing climate change by signing the United States back onto the Paris Climate Accord, and reversing environmental rollbacks from former President Donald Trump’s administration.
“A signal to the world that we’re taking this threat seriously, and we’re doing something about it,” said Garrett Garner-Wells with Conservation Colorado.
Garner-Wells praised the administration’s immediate action, but says the United States has a lot of catching up to do.
“We lost four years of federal leadership on climate action and that’s huge,” Garner-Wells said.
Colorado’s oil and gas industry and its roughly 90,000 jobs that hang in the balance are paying close attention to any shift in regulatory policy.
The president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Dan Haley, sent the following statement:
“We’re still gathering information on President Biden’s actions but this appears to be nothing new for Colorado operators, who already meet high standards to work in this state. Colorado in 2014 was the first state in the nation to initiate methane and greenhouse gas leak detection and repair rules, as well as a myriad of ozone precursor emission controls and efforts to reduce emissions overall. When it comes to air quality, Colorado’s tough rules and the innovations that have been implemented in the field are second to none and our emissions levels have gone down. We’re developing this resource in Colorado cleaner and better than most anywhere on the planet. The United States continues to lead the world in production of oil and gas, but also in the protection of our shared environment. It would be good for our state, our country, and our environment for both of those things to remain true in the coming four years.”