The major overhaul would create an estimated eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented people.
The administration of US President Joe Biden joins the Democrats on Capitol Hill to unveil a major immigration overhaul that would provide an eight-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people living in the US without legal status.
The legislation, due to be released in detail Thursday morning, will reflect the overall priorities for immigration reform that Biden set on his first day in office, including increasing visas, funding for processing asylum applications and new technology at the southern border.
While the plan provides one of the quickest avenues to citizenship of a proposed measure in recent years, it does not provide the enhanced border security that previous immigration negotiations have used as a means of gaining Republican votes. Without increased security, there will be difficult opportunities in a narrowly divided Congress.
The bill would immediately make green cards available to farm workers, those with temporary protection, and young people who came to the United States as undocumented children. For others living in the United States on or after January 1, 2021, the plan provides a five-year path to temporary legal status if they pass background checks, pay taxes, and meet other basic requirements. After three years they can apply for citizenship.
The plan would increase the current limit per country for family and work-related immigrant visas. It would remove the penalty that excludes those immigrants who live in the US without a permit and then leave the country from returning for three to ten years. It would also allocate resources to more judges, support staff, and technology to help clear the backlog in processing asylum seekers.
The US Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the administration of former President Donald Trump to end the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program in June 2020 [File: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP]The law would expand the transnational anti-drug task forces in Central America and improve technology at the border. And it would seek to ease the burden on the border by setting up refugee processing in Central America to prevent some of the migrant caravans that have overwhelmed border security in recent years.
The plan provides $ 4 billion over four years to stimulate economic development and fight corruption in Latin American countries to address some of the top causes of migration to the US.
Open to piecemeal approach
A dozen Democratic lawmakers, including primary sponsors of California Representative Linda Sanchez and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, will reveal the full text of the bill.
Comprehensive immigration reforms have struggled to gain a foothold in Congress for decades.
Menendez was part of the non-partisan Gang of Eight senators who negotiated an immigration reform bill in 2013 that ultimately collapsed. Previously, a bill supported by President George W. Bush also failed in Congress after several compromise attempts.
While Biden is putting forward a full bill, he suggested earlier this week that he could be open to a phased approach.
Speaking at a CNN town hall Tuesday night, Biden said that while path to citizenship is essential in any immigration law, “there are things I would do myself.” This could leave the door open for standalone bills aimed at providing a route to citizenship for different populations.
Still, the White House publicly stresses that its goal is a comprehensive plan.
“The president believes that all of these requirements that are in the bill – these pieces of the bill – make it comprehensive,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this week. “They all need to be addressed. That’s why he proposed them together. “