The “U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021” would provide a pathway to citizenship for all illegal immigrants, expand the refugee resettlement program, and deploy more technology to the southern border.
The bill would also consider asylum processing for minors in neighboring countries who want to move to the U.S., and expand benefits for DREAMers, or illegal immigrants brought to the country as children, according to NBC News.
“This plan is not only about fixing our broken immigration system, but building a better one that reunites families, brings the undocumented community out of the shadows and on a path to citizenship, stands up for human rights, addresses root causes of migration, and includes a smart border security strategy,” Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who is pushing the bill in the Senate, said in a statement.
Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Calif., who is leading the legislative effort in the House, said it’s vital that Biden keep his promise to work toward the immigration priorities he laid out during his first day in office.
“From our Dreamers, to the service workers and farmers pulling us through this pandemic, there are too many relying on this reform for us to fail,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to working with President Biden as well as my House colleagues to finally make our immigration system more functional, fair, and humane.”
To make sure the bill passes, Biden is considering splitting the bill into separate pieces so each can be negotiated.
His first priority would be passing bills that immediately legalize farmworkers and DREAMers.
Immigration experts, however, are worried that some of Biden’s more radical proposals, such as blanket amnesty, will worsen the crisis at the border.
“Providing a mass amnesty, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and a difficult economic situation, is an affront to American citizens and legal immigrants,” Matthew Tragesser, a spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told the Daily Caller. “A mass amnesty rewards individuals who have undermined federal and immigration laws and it sends the wrong message. It is unconscionable to grant a pathway to citizenship to those who have knowingly crossed the border illegally or who have overstayed their visa.”