Wednesday, 24 February, 2021


Democrats set to unveil Biden’s immigration Bill

Demonstrators protest in support of undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles in November 2019 Dems To Introduce Biden's Immigration Bill To Speed Up Pathway To Citizenship On Thursday
Kristine Garrett | 19 February, 2021, 09:54

President Joe Biden's administration is joining Democrats on Capitol Hill to unveil a major immigration overhaul that would offer an eight-year pathway to citizenship to the estimated 11 million people living in the US without legal status.

The 'U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021' will reflect Biden's immigration priorities, including expanding the refugee resettlement program and deploying more technology to the Southern border. Biden has acknowledged he might accept a more-piecemeal approach if separate major elements could be approved.

"As with President Biden's proposals on the climate crisis, a $15 minimum wage and Covid relief, this is a good start, but introducing a bill is not enough". Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement rolled out new measures Thursday that limit the categories of immigrants its officers can arrest within the United States. Without enhanced security, it faces tough odds in a closely divided Congress. But it is unclear how aggressively he will court Republicans needed to pass the Senate. But he also suggested that elements of the proposal could be included through a parliamentary maneuver in a budget bill that would only require 51 votes. The bill, if passed, would also remove bans on people who previously illegally lived in the US from re-entering, funnel billions of dollars into Central America for refugee programs, provide easier access for certain workers to immigrate to the United States, and replace the term "alien" with "noncitizen" in USA immigration laws. For others living in the U.S.as of January 1, 2021, the plan establishes a five-year path to temporary legal status. Then, after three years, they can pursue citizenship.

- Increasing the per-country caps, clearing visa backlogs and eliminating discrimination for family-based immigration.

The last time comprehensive, bipartisan immigration legislation was brought up in U.S. Congress was in 2013, and comprehensive immigration reform hasn't passed in over 30 years in the country, according to a USA Today report.

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 bill would expand transnational anti-drug task forces in Central America and enhance technology at the border.

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 plan includes $4 billion spread over four years to try to boost economic development and tackle corruption in Latin American countries, to lessen pressure for migration to the U.S.

"Our border policy is broken, period", Sanchez said. Then-acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske said the move would allow the department to take stock of its immigration and border policies as the department leadership transitioned between Republican and Democratic administrations.

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

"If Republicans want to come forward and work on immigration, I think the president is open to working with anyone who wants to get something done and get a bill to his desk", said a senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity Wednesday to discuss the early negotiations.

"No! This is not the right time and certainly not the right set of policies", House Republican Bill Johnson tweeted on Thursday. 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".

"There is a point where Joe Biden is going to have to decide", Nicole Melaku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans, told The Washington Post.

Biden indicated at a CNN town hall Tuesday night that he is open to alternate routes to citizenship - such as stand-alone bills that would legalize smaller groups of immigrants such as farmworkers - but he called the bill "a reasonable path to citizenship".

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