Democrats introduce Biden immigration plan in Congress, promising ‘bold’ changes

Friday, 19 Feb, 2021

US House Democrats followed the Senate in introducing President Joe Biden's US Citizenship Act, opening a path to citizenship for long-term residents who entered the country illegally as well as other categories of immigrants, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced.

"The more people you legalize, the more things will be required to be given, so we'll see".

In a statement, Biden said he looks 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 the immigration system. "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", Sanchez said. The bill, if passed, would also remove bans on people who previously illegally lived in the US from re-entering, funnel billions of dollars into Central America for refugee programs, provide easier access for certain workers to immigrate to the United States, and replace the term "alien" with "noncitizen" in usa immigration laws. Applicants will have five years of temporary legal status, then they'll be allowed to apply for green cards.

Others addressed include thousands of people in the United States under temporary protected status (TPS) due to violent upheavals or natural disasters in their home countries.

The U.S. government issued interim guidance on Thursday sharply limiting who can be arrested and deported by immigration agents, a move that comes as the Biden administration faces growing pressure from activists to scale back deportations.

Instead, they will be referred to as "non-citizens".

"We have an economic and moral imperative to pass big, bold and inclusive immigration reform", said New Jersey Democratic Sen.

Menendez noted that numerous immigrants work in the farm, food, and healthcare industries that have been essential during the Covid-19 pandemic, while risking higher rates of coronavirus infection and death. "They are our coworkers, neighbors and friends", said Menendez.

The legislation reflects the broad priorities for immigration changes that Biden laid out on his first day in office, including an increase in visas, more money to process asylum applications and new technology at the southern border.

Instead, new temporary internal guidance from acting ICE Director Tae Johnson states that the only immigrants the agency's Enforcement and Removal Operations officers will take into custody without first obtaining permission are immigrants who are illegally residing in the US and considered to be a national security, border security, or public safety threat.

His successor Donald Trump attempted to end the programme in 2017.

But it was only partially reinstated, leaving the status of millions uncertain.

"Congress must abolish the filibuster so the U.S. Citizenship Act is more than an empty promise".

The bill would expand transnational anti-drug task forces in Central America and enhances technology at the border.

"By focusing our limited resources on cases that present threats to national security, border security, and public safety, our agency will more ably and effectively execute its law enforcement mission", said ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson.