No Immediate Changes Are Coming to Immigration Policies
On the day of his inauguration, President Biden immediately got to work to uphold his campaign promises of revamping the American immigration system. He urged Congress to consider his ideas on how to modernize the process and has continued to be persistent with his assertion that immigration is an issue that must be addressed.
His proposals are indicative of a steadfast dedication to providing immigrants who have built their lives in the United States with an easier path to citizenship. Still, it’s important to note that, for now, these proposals still have a long road ahead before they affect our immigration policies.
What Are Biden’s Proposals?
President Biden sent an immigration bill to Congress immediately after being inaugurated, setting lofty goals for immigration changes. Some of Biden’s most notable suggestions include:
- Addressing the root causes of migration
- Eliminating family-based immigration restrictions
- Embracing diversity
- Expanding worker visas
- Implementing smart border controls with better resources and technology
- Offering a path to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants
- Promoting integration and citizenship for immigrants and refugees
- Protecting immigrant workers from exploitation
- Supporting asylum seekers
These proposals, if adopted, would establish a secure future for the majority of the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. Furthermore, they’d offer a beacon of hope for those looking to enter
The Progress of Biden’s Proposals
Congressional democrats recently unveiled the U.S. Citizenship Act, which contains many of the ideas offered by Biden. Supporters claim it will modernize our current system, reunite families, increase legal immigration, and help those already contributing to our communities secure their future in the United States.
What the U.S. Citizenship Act Hopes to Achieve
The document bears striking similarities to Biden’s initial proposals. It outlines an eight-year journey to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants living in the country as of January 1, 2021. The bill would allow these immigrants to live and work in the United States for five years so long as they pass initial background checks and pay taxes. After these first few years, they would be given the opportunity to apply for green card, thus achieving permanent residency and gaining the chance to obtain citizenship after three more years.
The similarities continue. The bill would remove restrictions on family-based immigration. In so doing, children and spouses located abroad would face fewer obstacles when joining their family in the United States.
The bill also expands worker visas to welcome more foreign professionals who wish to advance their career in the United States.
What the Legislation Does Not Address
This proposal, unlike most previous immigration reform efforts, does not focus largely on border enforcement. The emphasis is instead on providing the resources necessary to the ports of entry to process migrants legally. Additionally, the plan seeks to invest in distressed economies to reduce the need that families face to flee from crises.
What Needs to Happen to Further the Bill
Despite the narrow democratic majority in both chambers of Congress, the U.S. Citizenship Act requires bipartisan support to move forward. The challenge will come in the Senate where the split is 50-50. Democrats will need the support of 10 Republican senators to win the 60 votes necessary to defeat a filibuster.
Obama was able to gain significant Republican support for his immigration efforts in 2013. Unfortunately, nearly every Republican senator who supported the former president is no longer in office.
While these monumental proposals are telling of the Biden administration’s commitment to welcoming foreigners both currently inside and outside of the United States to become legal residents, the efforts will face pushback from Republicans. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that these proposals are still just that – proposals. The introduction of the ideas to Congress is a promising start, but we must not celebrate prematurely.