President-elect Joe Biden plans to reveal a sweeping immigration bill on Day One of his government, expecting to give an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the US without legal status, an enormous reversal from the Trump government’s harsh immigration policies.
The enactment puts Biden on track to convey a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of President Donald Trump’s restrictive policies and mass deportations. It gives one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without a legitimate status of any measure in recent years, however, it neglects to include the traditional trade-off of enhanced border security favored by numerous Republicans, making passage in a narrowly divided Congress in doubt.
Expected to run many pages, the bill is set to be introduced after Biden takes the vow of office Wednesday, as per an individual familiar with the legislation and granted anonymity to discuss it.
As a candidate, Biden called Trump’s actions on immigration an “unrelenting assault” on American values and said he would “undo the damage” while proceeding to maintain border enforcement.
Under the enactment, those living in the US as of January 1, 2021, without legitimate status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements. From there it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they decide to pursue citizenship.
For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the youngsters who arrived in the US illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and individuals under temporary protective status, could qualify all the more promptly for green cards more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements.
8-year citizenship path for immigrants
The bill isn’t as exhaustive as the last major immigration overhaul proposed when Biden was vice president during the Obama government.
For instance, it does not include a robust border security element but rather calls for coming up with strategies. Nor does it create any new guest worker or other visa programs.
It does address some of the root causes of immigration from Central America to the United States and gives grants for workforce development and English language learning.
Biden is expected to take swift executive actions to reverse Trump’s immigration actions, including an end to the prohibition on arrivals from several predominantly Muslim nations.
During the Democratic primary, Biden consistently named immigration action as one of his “day one” needs, pointing to the range of executive powers he could invoke to reverse Trump’s policies.
Biden allies and even a few Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new government could discover common ground with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and enough other GOP senators to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades.
That sort of major win — even if it involves compromise — could be critical as Biden looks for legislative victories in a firmly divided Congress, where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden needs that include rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending.
As a competitor, Biden went so far as to say the Obama administration went too far in its aggressive deportations.