US House Democrats follow Senate with Citizenship Bill for 'Dreamers,' others

Pablo Tucker
February 19, 2021

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. And, although their party controls Congress, with a 50-50 tie in the Senate it will be a tough slog for Biden's plan, which will provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

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.

The bill is backed by President Biden, who during the election promised to remake the nation's immigration system so as to reflect America's "highest values", following what he called the suffering under the misguided policies of the Trump administration.

The bill will make efforts to ease immigration timelines overseas, increasing numerous types of visa caps while seeking to reduce wait times for those who may now wait as long as 20 years to join family in the country. And it would set up refugee processing in Central America, to try to prevent some of the immigrant caravans that have overwhelmed border security in recent years.

Black lawmakers Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. Karen Bass from California, and leader of the Congressional Black Caucus Immigration Force, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, are among the dozen Democrats who've co-sponsored the bill.

The bill, based on parameters unveiled by the Biden administration last month, is expected to be championed by the White House as one of President Biden's domestic policy priorities during his first year in office.

Retired Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson says the Biden administration is "basically reopening the border" to illegal immigrants. "But this bill employs a multipronged approach that will manage the border, address the root causes of migration crack down on bad actors and create safe and legal channels for those who are seeking protection".

Comprehensive immigration reform has struggled to gain traction in Congress for decades.

Asked whether the White House would be open to considering potential Republican-led amendments to the bill that would increase any type of immigration enforcement, an administration official didn't rule it out. Rep. Jim Jordan of OH, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, charged in a statement that the bill "rewards those who broke the law" and "floods the labor market at a time when millions of Americans are out of work". But she contended that "there is a broad coalition that wants to deliver on real reform". "We're open to a conversation with anyone about this, but we think this is a much more comprehensive way to deal with this issue than just simply a wall". "By implementing a system for obtaining prior approval before pursuing certain cases, and through regular reporting of civil immigration enforcement actions, we will better coordinate our efforts, achieve consistency in our operations, and inform the development of the secretary's new enforcement guidelines".

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