CHN: Advocates Praise President Biden’s Day One Immigration Bill

On his first day in office, President Biden released details of his sweeping immigration reform bill, which he hopes to get passed through Congress. The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would provide an earned path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented individuals who were in the U.S. as of Jan. 1. According to the Washington Post, the bill proposes an eight-year pathway for millions of immigrants, including temporary legal status for five years, followed by the ability to apply for a green card after five years if they pass background checks and pay their taxes, and eligibility to apply for citizenship three years later. The bill would expedite the process for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program (also known as Dreamers) and the temporary protected status (TPS) program for migrants from strife-torn nations who, along with certain agricultural workers, could apply for a green card immediately.

According to the American Immigration Council, the bill will also make significant changes to the legal immigration system. It will bolster the number of employment- and family-based visas by recapturing millions of previously unused visas, increase per-country visa caps, and provide rapid paths to a green card for children and spouses of permanent residents. In addition, the proposal will expand refugee admission, provide funding to reduce asylum application backlogs, and include a focus on addressing the root causes of migration from Central America. For more information, see this White House fact sheet.

The bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate in the coming weeks, championed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). In a statement, Sen. Menendez said of the bill, “This plan is not only about fixing our broken immigration system, but building a better one that reunites families, brings the undocumented community out of the shadows and on a path to citizenship, stands up for human rights, addresses root causes of migration, and includes a smart border security strategy.”

Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream, called the legislation “the most progressive legalization bill in history.” Janet Murguía, president and CEO of UnidosUS (a member of CHN) said in a statement, “In addition to providing long-overdue and immediate relief and certainty to DACA recipients, these innovative and common-sense plans lay the groundwork to build a more fair, inclusive, and effective immigration system that will make us a stronger country with a brighter future.”

In addition to the wide-sweeping immigration proposal, President Biden also signed multiple executive actions and memoranda regarding immigration. For more information on these, see the related article in this Human Needs Report.