Biden's Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants
On February 18, 2021, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Representative Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA) unveiled President Biden’s pathway to citizenship for the eleven million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Referred to as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, Biden’s plan comprises of an eight-year process during which immigrants live and work in the U.S. After passing background checks and paying taxes, participants of the program are permitted a five-year stay in the United States. Then, upon completing this period, immigrants are able to apply for a green card, granting them permanent citizenship. Lastly, after three additional years, participants of this path have the opportunity to become full citizens.
While there have been many efforts made to reach bipartisan support regarding immigration reform, Biden’s eight-year path to citizenship seems to only be backed by his Democratic supporters. His plan focuses on making it far easier to enter the U.S. legally by rehabilitating legal points of entry rather than funding border enforcement like his predecessor, which has not pleased Senate Republicans. In fact, after being introduced in February, the bill still remains stalled on the Senate floor, and it is becoming seemingly more unlikely that its status will progress. Hope dwindles as Biden is still short the ten additional votes needed to overcome the filibuster, despite support from all fifty Democrat-controlled seats.
In the meantime, Senate Democrats and other major players in immigration policymaking recently met with President Biden to discuss the inclusion of immigration reform in his $3.5 trillion federal budget package. Policy change in this form is ideal, as budget bills only require a simple majority, thus enabling Democratic lawmakers to completely bypass Republican opposition. Biden readily reaffirmed his support for immigration reform, assuring the group of Senate Democrats that he would work with them in order to see their long-sought immigration policies signed into law.
Additionally, the pressure on the Biden administration to achieve success regarding immigration policy reform has been further fueled by a recent Texas ruling that outlawed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, one of the few remnants of immigration policy from Biden’s vice presidency during the Obama era. However, with the inclusion of immigration policy in his Reconciliation federal budget package, Biden and many Democratic lawmakers are working to create a path to citizenship for Dreamers, undocumented essential workers, and those with Temporary Protected Status. Although Biden has yet to disclose the specific details of each pathway as they are spelled out in the budget package, it is his intention, that with full support from Congress Democrats, the 11 million undocumented immigrants will come out of the shadows, stop living in fear of deportation and separation from their families and be granted a path to full citizenship in the near future.
We would like to thank our Summer Intern Hallie Sternblitz for doing the research and writing this Blog Post.Read More