Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Biden’s Immigration Bill Would Offer a Path to Citizenship for Millions

President Biden’s allies on Capitol Hill formally introduced his immigration overhaul in the House earlier this week, making good on his campaign promise to seek to modernize the nation’s immigration system and provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans.

This new immigration bill is called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. Senator Bob Menendez stated, “We’re here today because last November 80 million Americans voted against Donald Trump and against everything he stood for. They voted to restore common sense, compassion, and competence in our government. And part of that mandate is fixing our immigration system, which is a cornerstone of Trump’s hateful horror show.”

The unveiling puts a spotlight on a high-profile political issue that Biden is hoping to address despite the steep political challenges associated with moving immigration legislation in Congress. It comes at a time when the president and Democratic lawmakers are already during another major legislative undertaking: passing another COVID-19 relief package.

The centerpiece of the legislation is an 8- year path to citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living the U.S. since January 1st. After passing background checks and paying taxes, they would be allowed to live and work in the U.S. for 5 years. After that, they could apply for a green card, giving them permanent status in the U.S. and the opportunity to win citizenship after three more years.

The bill would sweep away restrictions on family-based immigration, making it easier for spouses and children to join their families already in the country and expand workers visas to allow more foreigners to come to the U.S. for jobs.

Unlike previous efforts to overhaul immigration, the legislation doesn’t include a large focus on increased border enforcement. Instead, the bill adds resources to process migrants legally at ports of entry and invests $4 billion over four years in distressed economies in the hopes of preventing people in fleeing to the U.S. because of security and economic crises.

Senator Menendez acknowledge that it would be difficult to win the support of the 10 Republican senators needed to pass Biden’s legislation. The Senate is split 50-50 and Democrats will need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. “We will never win an argument that we don’t have the courage to make. We will do the righteous thing and make our case for both inclusive and lasting immigration reform. And we have seen in poll after poll, most Americans are standing with us” said Menendez.

The New York Times