President Joe Biden’s proposed bill that aims to offer amnesty for illegal immigrants has been introduced in Congress by Democrats Linda Sanchez and Bob Menendez.
The bill, called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, will pave an 8-year path to amnesty for around 11-22 million illegal aliens currently residing in America. In a statement, Biden claimed that Trump’s policies had exacerbated an already broken immigration system. He promised to modernize it while adding that immigration is the source of America’s strength.
“I look forward to working with leaders in the House and Senate to address the wrongdoings of the past administration and restore justice, humanity, and order to our immigration system… This is an important first step in pursuing immigration policies that unite families, grow and enhance our economy, and safeguard our security… These are not Democratic or Republican priorities – but American ones,” Biden said in a statement.
Adressing the issue of illegal immigrants
The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 has three components. The first is aimed at undocumented immigrants. The second concerns immigrant agricultural workers and recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. And the third component is an enforcement plan that will deploy technology to patrol American borders. Raul Ruiz, Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, noted that they would be working towards passing the bills before April.
Undocumented immigrants will receive a 5-year temporary status. They will then be able to apply for a green card that will be active for 3 years, after which they can apply for citizenship. This program is only available for undocumented immigrants present in the US on or before Jan. 1, 2021. Farmworkers and DACA recipients assigned a temporary protected status as of Jan. 1, 2017, will be eligible to apply for a green card directly.
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act seeks to create a pathway that legalizes immigrant farmworkers’ citizenship and modifies the existing H2A visa program for agricultural workers. The Dream and Promise Act is a citizenship pathway targeted at DACA recipients, which refers to people who came into the country illegally as children and were allowed to stay.
The bill is facing strong opposition from Republican Party members. Senate GOP leader Republican Mitch McConnell slammed the proposal, warning that it will incentivize scores of people to rush into the United States illegally. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has suggested a more limited version of the bill, focusing on citizenship for DACA recipients.
The fact that the proposal will legalize 11 million or more immigrants in the country when more than 10 million Americans are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic is also something that stands against the bill getting passed in Congress.
Meanwhile, Democrat legislators in states like Texas, where immigration has been a contentious issue, are expressing their uneasiness at Biden’s immigration plans. They fear that the president’s policies will trigger a flood of migrants to their states, straining an already pressured employment scenario. These new migrants might offer cheaper labor, thereby harming millions of Latino lower-class workers.
“The way we’re doing it right now is catastrophic and is a recipe for disaster in the middle of a pandemic… Our party should be concerned. If we go off the rails, it’s going to be bad for us… Biden is going to be dealing with a minority in Congress if he continues down some of these paths,” Democrat Representative Vicente Gonzalez told Politico. A Washington Post poll conducted in April last year had found that 69 percent of Hispanics supported temporarily blocking all immigration into the U.S. during the pandemic.