Biden has characterized his bill as a way to reimagine immigration in the United States after the Trump administration clamped down on it, and the measure addresses details such as replacing the word "alien" with "noncitizen". But those involved with the legislation insist they're committed to a single legislative push for now.
The U.S. government has not passed a major citizenship bill since 1986, when amnesty legislation signed by Republican President Ronald Reagan legalized almost 3 million undocumented immigrants. They would immediately become eligible for green cards and could apply for citizenship after three years.
"Dreamers" and most of those here under Temporary Protected Status would get an even faster path, with immediate green cards.
Millions of other undocumented immigrants would be allowed to apply for citizenship after eight years, longer than the current five-year requirement but shorter than the path the Senate approved in 2013. Anyone who entered the country illegally after that date would not qualify.
In a rebuke of the previous administration, the legislation would ramp up spending to facilitate the asylum process, and provide funds for more judges as well as legal counsel for children and "vulnerable individuals".
The Biden plan checks off most of the major wish-list items of immigrant-rights activists, including: funding lawyers for some migrants who want to challenge their deportations; granting speedy legal status to "Dreamers" and farm workers; pouring cash into Latin America for nation-building activities; and slashing barriers to legal immigration.
- Grants would be made available to local educational agencies to provide services to unaccompanied migrant children. The bill also expands transnational gang task forces in the region.
"This is not a bipartisan bill", the official told reporters in previewing the legislation.
Existing criminal penalties for unauthorized immigrants remain in place, including those that bar certain criminals from obtaining green cards.
Counties and municipalities will be able to petition for additional work visas as needed under the reform bill. It would eliminate the penalty barring those immigrants who live in the USA without authorization and who then leave the country from returning for three to 10 years. It also means LGBTQ+ partnerships would be treated equally under the Immigration and Nationality Act, according to one administration official.
The plan seeks to boost the diversity visa program, a sharp departure from the Trump administration's goal to eliminate the program.
The White House said Wednesday it remains in "close contact" with states hard hit by the winter weather and frigid temperatures that have knocked out power to millions. It's expected to be introduced by two Democrats, Sen.
Advocates for immigrants cheered plans to formally introduce the bill, the broad outlines of which Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office, but said they doubted it would pass. Democrats hold the House, but they need at least 10 Republican votes to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass the Senate. 'They all need to be addressed.
Unveiling an ambitious legislative proposal and actually achieving it are two very different things.
If Democrats decide to go at it alone, they could pass some form of the bill, but that move could also contradict the message of unity and bipartisanship Biden campaigned on.