Biden’s Immigration Reforms delayed


At the outset of his first term in office, President Biden was able to pass a number of executive actions to repeal many of President Trump’s actions from his previous presidency.  However, the sweeping reforms which President Biden has planned since his campaign began, including a comprehensive legislation bill, have been delayed due to lack of majority in the Senate and House of Representatives.

The crux of the bill, presented by Democrats on Capitol Hill, focuses on an an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immgrants ot the United States, as well as eliminating restriction on family re-unification and immagration, as well as allowing for more worker visas.  

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and the goal of the legislation is to create a legal path forward for the individuals to obtain United States permanent residency, then citizenship.  The mechanism would be as follows: during the first five years, an undocumented immigrant would be allowed to be allowed to live and work in the United States.  They would be required to have a background check and would have to pay taxes.  The second part of the plan would allow them to gain permanent status after five years through a green card application, and three years after that via a final citizenship application.  The total would be about a decade to go from undocumented status to citizenship.

However this sweeping legislation, which makes the most far-reaching changes in immigration law in more than three decades, does not have bi-partisan support, and as a result Democrats are reviewing it in committee in order to make changes to increase the chance of it passing.  The bill would furthermore remove restrictions on family-based immigration, making it easier for spouses and children to join their families already in the country.  Additionally it would increase the number of worker visas to allow more foreigners to come to the United States for employment.


Another financial element of the bill is that it adds resources to process migrants legally at ports of entry and has earmarked $4 billion of investment over four years targeting countries with slow economies in the hopes of improving the economic situation and reducing the amount of people from fleeing to the United States because of local security and economic issues.  Another issue causing some dissent from lawmakers is the lack of legislation focusing on increased border enforcement, which is a key item for many Republicans.

Instead of passing a comprehensive bill, Democrats are breaking the proposal into pieces so that they can pass the legislation in parts instead of waiting for a complete package.  The two main proposals coming to vote in the next month, which have bi-partisan support, are to reform the system for farmworkers, as well as the protection of the undocumented population known as “Dreamers.”  The further debate includes a provision requiring employers to confirm workers’ legal status, known as e-verify, which is backed by moderates, and some adjustments to ensure the bill doesn’t disqualify people from citizenship because of minor infractions on their criminal record, which is espoused by progressives.  All in all, the fragmented state of the legislative bodies is limiting Biden’s ability to pass the comprehensive immigration bill he has been putting together since his primary, while certain targeted bills, which have bipartisan support, may see a winning vote in the near future, but only addressing a small sliver of the immigration issues being discussed on the Democrats platform.


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