Democrats have introduced huge bi-camera legislation that promises to create a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
These include the Dreamers, Temporary Protective Status (TPS) recipients, and essential workers who have made enormous sacrifices during the pandemic. It will also prioritize family reunification and keeping families together.
President Joe Biden’s proposed immigration reform was introduced in Congress on Thursday, kicking off what will likely be one of his most difficult legislative challenges.
The bill could face a daunting path because GOP lawmakers’ opposition to legalizing undocumented immigrants, which they decry as amnesty, toughened during President Donald Trump’s era.
The bill provides Dreamers, TPS holders, and some farm workers with an expedited three-year path to citizenship.
But will give all other undocumented immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes an eight-year path to citizenship without fear of deportation.
The citizenship path is not conditional on the implementation of border security measures, which had been a trade-off included in past immigration bills designed to earn Republican support.
Representative Linda Sánchez, a California Democrat, sponsored the bill in the House, and New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez is its chief sponsor in the Senate.
The possibility of breaking the bill package into pieces and presenting them separately in order to win over some Republicans was heightened by Biden’s comment in a CNN town hall event on Tuesday that smaller measures could help fix the system “in the meantime.”
There is an indication that the Biden administration may urge the leaders in the House and Senate to try to use a procedural maneuver known as budget reconciliation to pass it with only Democratic votes.
The Democrats are employing the reconciliation process to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan.
While the Bill is expected to bolster the country’s long-term economic growth, it would also equip the country to responsibly and effectively manage the border with smart and effective investments, address root causes of migration that force people to leave Central America, and restore the United States’ commitment to human rights, according to Menendez.
“As the son of Cuban immigrants who fled an oppressive regime for a better life in the United States, I have dedicated much of my career in Congress, both in the House and the Senate, fighting for the dignity of immigrant families in New Jersey and all across America.
“Immigrants contribute greatly to our country and society; they own businesses, pay taxes and teach our children, they are our coworkers, neighbors, and friends,” said Sen. Menendez.
He also said that “we have a historic opportunity to finally enact bold immigration reform that leaves no one behind, addresses root causes of migration, and safeguards our country’s national security. We have a moral and economic imperative to get this done once and for all.”
Rep. Sánchez, who is also a daughter of an immigrant, noted that with President Biden’s leadership and vision, Democratic majorities in both Chambers, now have “our moment to finally deliver big, bold, and inclusive immigration reform that our nation and its people deserve.”
“The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 establishes a moral and economic imperative and a vision of immigration reform that is expansive and inclusive,” said Menendez, who is also the Chairman of the foreign relations committee.