It’s been a month since 46th President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala D. Harris, took over the leadership role of our country. Since that time, President Biden has signed three executive orders on Immigration. Additionally, Senator Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham introduced the latest iteration of the Dream Act, a part of a new immigration reform push. Today, we’re proud to announce that President Biden made a decades-long effort to reform a broken U.S. immigration. Democratic lawmakers introduced the legislation that Biden officials touted on his first day in the White House – an ambitious bill that would offer a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants in the U.S. without legal status.
Although this is not a bipartisan bill, administration officials indicated that they view this legislation as an opening bid and don’t rapidly expect it to pass with the needed Republican support in its current form. If this reform bill is passed, it would be the largest overhaul of the U.S. immigration system in decades. We have mentioned in a past article of changes we could expect to see this year in regards to Immigration. Below are some of the proposed reforms and plans:
- Pathway to Citizenship – The U.S. The Citizenship Act of 2021 would create an eight-year path to citizenship for millions of people in the country. It would provide them with a new temporary status for five years and then allow them to obtain citizenship after another three years. The path to citizenship only applies to people who have been in the country as of January 1, 2021. Anyone who entered the country illegally after the date would not qualify.
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Allows people with DACA protection, a group known as “Dreamers”, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, farmworkers, and people with Temporary Protected Status to immediately apply for a green card if they meet specific requirements. They would have a three-year path to citizenship.
- Border Backlog. this bill provides funding for more immigration judges and support staff to help with the backlog of asylum seekers. The immigration court backlog has hit record highs in recent years as the Trump administration put added pressure on judges to adjudicate the high volumes. The bill also provides funding for lawyers to represent minors and other vulnerable groups, a move that also makes it more statistically likely for migrants to finish out the court process.
- Border Security. This bill provides for increased security at ports of entry focused on detecting drugs and other contraband. Existing criminal penalties for unauthorized immigrants remain in place, including those that bar certain criminals from obtaining green cards. Under an existing law, anyone convicted of an aggravated felony or a crime involving illegal narcotics is not admissible in the U.S.
- The bill would remove the word “alien” in the immigration code and replace it with “noncitizen”. This move has been applauded by immigrant advocates who see the use of the word as derogatory and dehumanizing.
- It would also end the three and 10-year bans on reentry for undocumented immigrants who voluntarily leave the country.
- The bill also reforms legal immigration processes by no longer counting spouses and minor children against a country’s share of allotted visas. It also means that LGBTQ+ partnerships would be treated equally under the Immigration and Nationality Act, according to one administration official.
- Embrace diversity. The bill includes the NO BAN Act that prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue the future bans. The bill also increases Diversity Visas to 80,000 from 55,000.
- Permits certain immigrants who were deported during the Trump administration and had previously lived in the United States for three years to return to reunite with family or for other humanitarian reasons.
For more information regarding Immigration & Naturalization law, The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux is here to answer your immigration-related questions. You can depend on us to stay ahead of immigration developments and keep you informed.