Two Democratic legislators, California Congresswoman Linda Sanchez and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, will present the initiative in the House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively. "If we go off the rails, it's going to be bad for us", Gonzalez said. "We have compromised too much and capitulated too quickly to fringe voices who have refused to accept the humanity and contributions of immigrants to our country".
As for possibly breaking up the bill, Menendez said he remains open to that possibility, but still claimed the 2020 election results as a mandate for total reform.
President Joe Biden will unveil his immigration plan on Thursday, a proposal that offers one of the fastest pathways to citizenship of any measure in recent years. They would immediately become eligible for green cards and could apply for citizenship after three years.
- Numerous people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection, known as "Dreamers", who were brought to the United States illegally as children and people with Temporary Protected Status would immediately be eligible to apply for a green card and would have a three-year path to citizenship.
Those who made it into the country before January 1, 2021, would be eligible. Anyone who entered the country illegally after that date would not qualify.
Diversity visas, provided to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the USA, would be increased from 50,000 per year to 85,000, according to an administration official.
- Grants would be made available to local educational agencies to provide services to unaccompanied migrant children.
Additionally, the package would provide funding for refugee-processing facilities in Central America that an administration official described to reporters as a means of eliminating the need for migrants to travel in large caravans across multiple countries.
The bill provides for increased security at ports of entry focused on detecting drugs and other contraband.
Existing criminal penalties for unauthorized immigrants remain in place, including those that bar certain criminals from obtaining green cards.
"This was a day-one commitment of the president, and it is his vision of what it takes to fix the system", a senior administration official told reporters.
Under existing law, anyone convicted of an aggravated felony or a crime involving illegal narcotics is not admissible in the U.S. This move has been applauded by immigrant advocates who see the use of the word as derogatory and dehumanizing.
The proposal also boosts the Diversity Immigrant Visa program, aka the green card lottery, from 55,000 visas to 80,000.
Separately, the number of diversity visas issued for countries with low rates of immigration to the US will increase from 55,000 to 80,000.
Since coming to power, Biden has announced a push to reform immigration and roll back his predecessor's hardline policies, including with the creation of a special task force to reunite families separated by Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy towards undocumented immigrants. It faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where 10 Republican votes would be needed to overcome a filibuster.