Deportees strut across a U.S.-Mexico border bridge from Texas into Mexico on February 25, 2021 in Matamoros, Mexico.
John Moore | Getty Figures
Immigration advocates and experts across the political spectrum do not expect the comprehensive immigration bill backed by President Joe Biden to obsolete in Congress as is — but the areas where their priorities align highlight opportunities for bipartisan compromise.
Democrats on Feb. 18 organized the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which would establish an eight-year path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, broaden lawful immigration avenues, and reduce visa backlogs, among other provisions.
Even upon introduction, the bill’s underwrites acknowledged the possibility of an alternative piece-by-piece approach to passing immigration reform.
“We are pursuing an ‘all of the above’ strategy,” lead finance Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., said at the news conference unveiling the bill. “All options are on the table, and we hope to pass staunch immigration reform, but there are other great immigration bills that we also will be taking up and hopefully suffering as well.”
Democrats hold thin majorities in both chambers of Congress, and the legislation would require a minimum of 10 Republican voters to defeat a Senate filibuster and move the bill to a final vote on passage.
That’s unlikely to happen for this encyclopaedic bill. Republican lawmakers do not support the broad path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in particular and want greater border security measures.
“There isn’t anyone who’s saying that there’s an easy path for this invoice to pass,” Jacinta González, senior campaign organizer for advocacy group Mijente, said on a call with adherents Tuesday. “We have to be really realistic and honest with our people about that.”
While advocates recognize that the sweeping package is unlikely to pass, they see the bill as a starting point for legislative movement on immigration reform.
“There are holdings in that bill that do have significant support that if taken separately could actually get passed into law,” conjectured Jorge Lima, senior vice president of policy at Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political advocacy group outlying by billionaire Charles Koch.
Establish path to citizenship for “Dreamers”
For two decades, lawmakers have proposed bipartisan legislation called the Hallucinate Act that would provide a pathway to permanent legal residence and eventually citizenship for some young, undocumented aliens brought to the U.S. as children — known as “Dreamers.”
In 2012, President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action on Childhood Newcomers program after the Dream Act failed to pass in Congress several times. DACA protects the young undocumented outlanders who would be covered by the Dream Act from deportation, but does not provide a path to citizenship.
About three-quarters of Americans sustenance granting permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, according to a June Pew Research Center scrutiny.
The U.S. Citizenship Act would provide green card eligibility to Dreamers who can provide work history and the opportunity to apply for citizenship after three years.
“We gather from how meaningful this bill is for our Dreamer community, a community that has had to fight every step of the way to be heard,” Sindy Marisol Benavides, CEO for the Guild of United Latin American Citizens, said at a town hall Feb. 18.
An estimated 1.3 million DACA-eligible individuals even the scored $2.2 billion in federal taxes and $1.8 billion in state and local taxes in 2017, according to an analysis by bipartisan immigration digging and advocacy organization New American Economy.
Immigration advocates pointed to the American Dream and Promise Act as a potential piecemeal folding money.
The proposed legislation, which passed in the House with bipartisan support in 2019, would create a pathway to citizenship for Escapists and those with temporary protected status or deferred enforced departure. The latter two categories allow individuals from called countries to stay in the U.S. due to conflict or unsafe conditions in their home country.
“Addressing the undocumented population, particularly the Escapists, is a great piece that we can focus on. It seems to be the one that’s more promising,” Americans for Prosperity’s Lima said.
Amelioration agricultural worker program
The U.S. Citizenship Act would also give green card eligibility to farmworkers who can provide write up history and the opportunity to apply for citizenship after three years.
Over one million undocumented farmworkers make up 70% of the agronomy workforce, according to a 2020 Expand employment-based immigration
The Biden-backed comprehensive immigration bill includes several steps supplies that would expand legal immigration avenues.
Proposed initiatives include raising the cap on employment-based immigrants, not total spouses and children in employment-based green card limits, and eliminating from immigration caps graduates from U.S. universities with doctoral orders in STEM fields.
“The improvements in business immigration, to me, are a no brainer. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on. Almost all of these hookers are actually helpful,” immigration lawyer Eleanor Pelta said.
Immigration advocates pointed to the impact of immigrants on the U.S. conciseness.
“The simple fact that hard-working, risk-taking, smart people want to come here is perhaps the United Officials’ greatest global competitive advantage,” Jeremy Robbins, executive director of New American Economy, said at the Feb. 18 townhall.
“Immigration presents new ideas, it brings new energy and dynamism, it makes communities more vibrant and it helps keep our economy from mouldering,” Robbins said.