A President Joe Biden-backed bill has been introduced in Congress that would overhaul immigration in the US, but could face steep obstacles getting passed.
The US Citizenship Act of 2021 was introduced on Thursday, which if passed, would provide an eight-year pathway for citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US. In order to be eligible, those living in the US would have to pass a background check and pay taxes.
Other highlights of the bill include:
- An increase on per-country caps of family-based immigration
- Providing additional funds for case management programs to reduce the backlog of immigration cases in courts
- Funding to Central American nations in hopes of tackling the root cause of migration to the US
- Replace the word “alien” with “non-citizen” in US law
- Increase surveillance technology at the border.
Biden hailed the introduction of the bill, as it was one of his policy goals during his presidential campaign.
“I look forward to working with leaders in the House and Senate to address the wrongdoings of the past administration and restore justice, humanity, and order to our immigration system,” Biden said in a statement. “This is an important first step in pursuing immigration policies that unite families, grow and enhance our economy, and safeguard our security.”
While both parties have talked of comprehensive immigration reform in years past, efforts have failed. The measure proposed by Democrats might need 10 Republican votes in the US Senate, while maintaining the support of moderate Democrats who may be apprehensive of passing such a sweeping reform.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that the bill could pass through the Senate without any GOP support if the Senate uses the budget reconciliation process. Using budget reconciliation would allow Democrats to bypass the legislative filibuster.
While dozens of Democrats have signed onto support the bill, no Republicans have given their backing.
“I am deeply proud to introduce the U.S. Citizenship Act in the House of Representative today, a vision that provides long-overdue permanent protections, and restores humanity and American values to our immigration system,” said Rep. Linda T. Sanchez of California who co-sponsored the bill. “I am the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico, this is personal to me. I have dedicated my career to building an immigration system that lets people live without fear, and a system that gives immigrants – like my parents – who sought a better life and contribute to our nation a fair opportunity to thrive.
“After all, immigration reform isn’t just about policy changes and politics-as-usual, it’s about people: our loved ones, friends, and neighbors who have been living in our communities and contributing to our country for decades.”