The Biden administration and Congressional Democrats will formally unveil legislation Thursday that would dramatically reform the nation’s immigration laws and create a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States.
After two decades of failing to advance meaningful immigration reform, Joe Biden and his allies on Capitol Hill are reviving the effort, which the new president has identified will be a top national priority.
The proposal, based on the principles that Biden described On his first day in office, he will be introduced in the House by California Congresswoman Linda Sánchez and in the Senate by New Jersey Senator Bob Menéndez, both Democrats with experience negotiating immigration legislation in Congress.
According to administration officials, eligible undocumented immigrants could apply for temporary legal status, which confers work permits and relief from deportation. After five years, they could apply for a green card as part of an eight-year path to citizenship.
Some immigrants, including farmworkers, those with Temporary Protected Status and undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, would be eligible to apply for green cards immediately, officials said in a call with reporters Wednesday night. After three years, they could apply to become US citizens.
To avoid a sudden spike at the border, applicants must have been in the US prior to January 1, 2021 and should pass all required criminal and national security checks, as well as file taxes and pay application fees.
The proposal also attempts to simplify and expand the legal immigration system by raising the current limits for employer and family-based immigrant visas. Spouses, legal partners, and children of permanent residents would be exempt from current country limits, which administration officials say would dramatically reduce wait times. It would also explicitly include same-sex couples as immediate relatives.
A second pillar of the legislation aims to address the “root causes” of migration to the southwestern border. To that end, the proposal would grant the Biden administration $ 4 billion over four years to fight corruption and reduce poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
It would also establish processing centers throughout the region, where people from Central America could apply for refugee status to come legally to the United States. An official said the goal was to stop the flow of migrants to the US border, a journey that has become increasingly dangerous.
Another aspect of the plan would repeal Clinton-era immigration rules that prohibit undocumented immigrants leaving the United States from re-entering the United States legally for three to 10 years, depending on how long they were illegally present in the country. It also changes the term “foreigner,” a word that immigrant advocates have long denounced as dehumanizing, to “non-citizen.”
Reform faces an uphill climb, as Democrats have only a narrow majority in the House and Senate. Passing the bill in the Senate would require the support of at least 10 Republicans, a difficult task on an issue where parties have only become more divided in recent years. Under Trump, Republicans supported many of the former president’s hardline isolationist policies that angered Democrats and independents.
Republican support, or would you consider using a legislative maneuver,
On his first day in office, Biden set out to undo many of his predecessor’s immigration policies, including the preservation of DACA, an Obama-era program that protects immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. of deportation, halting the construction of the border wall and repealing the ban on travelers from predominantly Muslim nations.
Although presidents have broad authority over immigration, there are limits to what can be accomplished through executive action. This came to light after Trump attempted to end the DACA program, leaving hundreds of thousands of recipients in a state of limbo amid the ensuing legal battle.
At a CNN town hall Tuesday, Biden stepped up his support for a broad immigration bill, but also said he was open to a piecemeal approach that would pave the way for smaller, dedicated groups of immigrants to obtain citizenship “in the meantime. “.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism