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Congressional Democrats unveiled President Biden’s immigration reform bill on Thursday, which would provide an eight-year pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. Its prospects for passing are incredibly slim due to narrow Democratic majorities in both chambers. The bill was introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.). It includes the following:
- Eight-year pathway to citizenship for people who were living in the U.S. unlawfully on Jan. 1, 2021. They would receive a green card after five years and could apply for citizenship three years later if they pass certain requirements.
- Expedited pathway for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status holders. They would immediately be able to apply for green cards.
- Raises per country quotas on forms of legal immigration and speeds up family reunification for green card holders
- Directs more funding to the immigration courts to increase the number of immigration judges and access to counsel for vulnerable migrants such as children
- Creates regional processing centers in Central America
While the bill has been praised by advocates, it is unlikely to garner the 10 Republican votes that it needs to pass without a filibuster. “This bill was not designed to get to 60,” a person close to the White House who was briefed on the bill told Politico. “There’s no pathway to 60.” The administration is open to passing smaller bills to address immigration concerns in a more piecemeal way, such as a bill that offers a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS holders, which may be able to garner bipartisan support. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a bill specifically for Dreamers earlier this month.
Democrats are currently heading a budget reconciliation that will let their coronavirus relief measure pass without GOP support. Pieces of the bill may be added to the reconciliation to allow the Democrats’ simple Senate majority to pass the bill. Politico, Reuters