Democrats to unveil Biden’s USA immigration reform bill

Elias Hubbard
February 18, 2021

US President Joe Biden's immigration bill, which aims to create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, will be unveiled today to begin its legislative process, senior White House officials said. Then, after three years, they can pursue citizenship. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted with Democrats to convict Trump, touted his own measure this week that would increase the minimum wage "while ensuring businesses can not hire illegal immigrants".

- 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.

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 Trump administration passed more than 400 executive orders to curb immigration and punish the undocumented.

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

The plan includes $4 billion spread over four years to try to boost economic development and tackle corruption in Latin American countries, to try to address some of the root causes of migration to the U.S. And it would try to reduce the burden at the border by setting up refugee processing in Central America, to try to prevent some of the immigrant caravans that have overwhelmed border security in recent years.

Existing criminal penalties for unauthorized immigrants remain in place, including those that bar certain criminals from obtaining green cards.

According to CNN and the Washington Post, administration officials told reporters on Wednesday that it's "just too early to speculate" whether Democrats could approve the bill through budget reconciliation, a voting procedure that only requires a simple majority.

Under existing law, anyone convicted of an aggravated felony or a crime involving illegal narcotics is not admissible in the U.S.

The bill will also replace the term "alien", used to refer to foreigners in immigration legislation, with "non-citizen" "to better reflect the president's values on immigration", the official said.

Diversity visas, provided to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S., would be increased from 50,000 per year to 85,000, according to an administration official. 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's expected to be introduced by two Democrats, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Rep. Linda Sanchez of California.

It does not appear that Biden and the Democrats have enough Republican support they would need to pass this in a bipartisan manner.

And the new bill also takes pains to reject the immigration solutions proposed by former President Trump.

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.

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

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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