Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) on Thursday will introduce legislation backed by President Biden to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, and Sen. Bob Menedez (D-N.J.) will introduce it in the Senate next week. The sweeping bill would provide an eight-year path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, starting with the DREAMERs — people brought to the U.S. illegally as children — and immigrants who qualify for Temporary Protected Status.
The bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, would also increase the number of certain visas, replace the word “alien” with “noncitizen” in U.S. immigration code, fund more immigration judges and support staff to help clear the backlog of asylum seekers, send funds to Central American countries to discourage emigration, and increase security at ports of entry to fight smuggling of drugs and other contraband. It would try to avert a future reprise of former President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” by limiting the power of presidents to curtail immigration.
The legislation wraps together all Biden’s major immigration policy priorities. “But White House officials were having trouble Wednesday convincing advocates and even reporters that it could garner the support of at least 10 Republicans in the Senate,” Politico‘s Anita Kumar reports. “Behind the scenes, the White House has accepted that it will need to break the bill up into pieces,” including standalone legislation on DREAMERs and TPS recipients.
Some Democrats “are growing increasingly uneasy that the White House is walking into a political buzzsaw in its zeal to unwind hardline Trump administration policies,” Politico reports, especially House Democrats representing Texas border districts. “If we go off the rails, it’s going to be bad for us,” said Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas). “Biden is going to be dealing with a minority in Congress if he continues down some of these paths.” On the other hand, ABC News notes, if Democrats “wait for Republican support, Congress could be looking at another failed attempt at immigration reform.