D-day for Joe Biden’s immigration reform plan being unveiled


President Joe Biden will unveil his immigration plan on Thursday, a proposal that offers one of the fastest pathways to citizenship of any measure in recent years. 

However, the plan doesn’t contain any details on enhanced border security, which past measures have included as a way to win Republican votes.

Congressional Democrats will release the legislation Thursday on Capitol Hill. And, although their party controls Congress, with a 50-50 tie in the Senate it will be a tough slog for Biden’s plan, which will provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

President Joe Biden will unveil his immigration plan on Thursday, a proposal that offers one of the fastest pathways to citizenship of any measure in recent years

At his town hall meeting with CNN on Tuesday, Biden made a gaffe when he said most of those on his fast-track to citizenship are not Hispanic. 

‘The vast majority of the people, those 11 million undocumented, they’re not Hispanics; they’re people who came on a visa — who was able to buy a ticket to get in a plane, and didn’t go home,’ the president said. 

‘They didn’t come across the Rio Grande swimming,’ he added to laughter from the audience. ‘Sorry, that’s the Irish in me.’ 

The largest percentage of undocumented immigrants come from Mexico, according to the Pew Research Center.

In 2018, roughly 11.2 million immigrants living in the U.S. were from there, accounting for 25% of all U.S. immigrants. The next largest origin groups were those from China (6%), India (6%), the Philippines (4%) and El Salvador (3%). 

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.  

The bill would immediately provide green cards to farm workers, those with temporary protected status and young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. 

For others living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, the plan establishes a five-year path to temporary legal status, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements. Then, after three years, they can pursue citizenship.

The plan would raise the current per-country caps for family and employment-based immigrant visas. It would eliminate the penalty barring those immigrants who live in the U.S. without authorization and who then leave the country from returning for three to 10 years. It also would provide resources for more judges, support staff and technology to address the backlog in processing asylum seekers.

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

Biden's provides an immediate pathway to citizenship for farmworkers, DACA recipients, and Temporary Protected Status holder - above a citizenship ceremony in New York

Biden’s provides an immediate pathway to citizenship for farmworkers, DACA recipients, and Temporary Protected Status holder – above a citizenship ceremony in New York

At his town hall meeting with CNN on Tuesday, Biden made a gaffe when he said most of those on his fast-track to citizenship are not Hispanic

At his town hall meeting with CNN on Tuesday, Biden made a gaffe when he said most of those on his fast-track to citizenship are not Hispanic

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.

A dozen Democratic lawmakers, including lead sponsors California Rep. Linda Sanchez and New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, are set to unveil the full text of the bill.

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

Menendez was part of the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators who negotiated a 2013 immigration reform bill that ultimately collapsed. Prior to that, a bill backed by President George W. Bush failed in Congress as well, after multiple attempts at compromise.

While Biden is pushing a comprehensive bill, he suggested earlier this week he may be open to a more piecemeal approach. 

During the CNN town hall Tuesday night, Biden said that while a pathway to citizenship would be essential in any immigration bill, ‘there´s things I would deal by itself.’ 

That could leave the door open to standalone bills focused on providing a pathway to citizenship for various populations.

Still, publicly the White House is emphasizing that its goal is a comprehensive plan.

‘The president feels that all of these requirements that are in the bill – these components of the bill – are what makes it comprehensive,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this week. ‘They all need to be addressed. That´s why he proposed them together.’



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