President Joe Biden’s electoral promise to thoroughly reform the US immigration system as soon as he took office was materialized this week in a legislative bill presented in Congress. Democrats are tackling this pressing issue with a very ambitious initiative that touches on all aspects of the problem, fossilized for decades despite multiple attempts by both parties. A long and uncertain legislative journey awaits this immigration reform, but at least it promises that the United States will have an exhaustive debate – in institutions and in society – about its immigration system after four years of hysteria on Twitter, chaos on the borders and some episodes of very low moral significance.
The most ambitious point is the regularization within eight years of almost all the 11 million undocumented immigrants estimated to live in the country, a huge number accumulated since the amnesty decreed by Ronald Reagan in 1986. After passing exams background information and pay their taxes, something that many already do, they will be able to request a residence permit and then nationalize. The Pew Center calculates that some 7.6 million of those undocumented work. Two-thirds of them have been in the American nation for more than a decade. More than half live and work in the six states that are America’s economic engine, not by chance. With this measure, Biden recognizes the reality of the country and the Democrats make a good vindication of their Latino electorate.
The project methodically dismantles piece by piece all of Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policy, from solving the visa jam to rational border management. In addition, it includes an attempt to alleviate the causes of irregular immigration, today mainly displaced to Central America. Democrats propose investing up to $ 4 billion in Central American countries to mitigate the desperate flight of their population. It is very positive that the United States recognizes that immigration is not a problem that arises spontaneously on its southern border.
Lack of supports a priori of Republican congressmen does not bode well. Polarization and electoral fear of the Republican extremist wing, which derailed the 2013 bipartisan plan, has only gotten worse. The more than certain Republican blockade in the Senate means that the Democrats are already thinking about alternatives.
But whether the plan is approved in whole or in parts, the important thing is that the Biden Administration has buried in a month the Trumpian paranoia according to which miserable families seeking asylum at the border were portrayed as invading criminal barbarians. Medieval solutions were thus justified, such as building walls in the middle of the desert, locking up immigrants indefinitely, or ripping their children out of their arms so that others would desist from the trip out of sheer terror. Along the way, the White House humiliated the Central American nations and poisoned relations with Mexico. After this experience, inspired by undisguised supremacist racism, returning the immigration debate to reality and looking people in the eye is in itself hopeful.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.