The new administration has a completely different focus on immigration than the last administration. On just his first day in office, President Joe Biden, according to the Los Angeles Times, introduced a major immigration initiative that was sent to the US Congress. At the center of his plan is a pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million immigrants who currently don’t have legal status.
The package also aims to provide a short path to citizenship for the hundreds of thousands of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) immigrants who have temporary protected status. DACA beneficiaries are immigrants who were brought to American illegally as children. The short path to citizenship goal also applies to certain front-line essential workers. Many of these courageous pandemic workers are immigrants.
The proposed legislation differs from prior immigration bills (previously enacted) – in that the proposal does not have any requirements directly linking immigration expansion with security steps and increased law-enforcement – according to Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center and its Immigrant Justice Fund. Ms. Hincapié said that the legislation doesn’t link law enforcement with immigration because prior efforts to do so in the Obama administration – failed to appease the Republican party.
Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said the goal of the immigration bill is to restore humanity to the immigration process. The legislation, if enacted, would be the most significant immigration legislation since President Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. That law helped three million non-documented immigrants gain legal status. It’s expected that this new legislation will have a lot of pushback from the Republican party since 10 Republicans are needed to agree to the legislation due to the Senate’s filibuster rules.
While the legislation is pending, Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro said he was working on introducing another bill – seeking to protect immigrants from deportation and providing for a fast-track citizenship path for undocumented essential workers.
Some of the key provisions of Biden immigration legislation proposal
According to the National Law Review, the US Citizenship Act:
Provides that immigrants will become eligible for legal permanent resident status (a green card) after five years. After another three years, they could apply for US citizenship. The applicants would need to pass background checks and pay their taxes while they’re in the US.
Provides that many immigrants would be eligible for green cards immediately – Dreamers, qualifying agricultural immigrant workers, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. These immigrants must be physically present in the US on or before January 1, 2021.
Provide that for family-sponsored immigrant petitions, the applicants could join their family in the US on a temporary basis while they wait for the availability of green cards.
Provide that for employment immigrant petitions – the legislation would eliminate per-country visa caps and exempt graduates (with advanced STEM degrees) of US colleges from visa caps. The law would also recapture unused visas and address the backlog of employment-based visas.
Respond to the reasons for illegal immigration.
Propose other initiatives such as giving DHS the ability to change the immigrant visa numbers due to the economy.
The Biden proposal doesn’t immediately address H-1B, L-1, and H-2B non-immigrant visas.
Vice-President Kamala Harris said that the new law would also increase the number of immigration judges to help reduce the backlog of immigration cases.
According to Congressman Paul Ruiz, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, it’s expected that President Biden will also sign a number of executive orders affecting immigration and that there will be stand-alone immigration bills in addition to the comprehensive package. Many of these bills have already been passed by the House:
Talk to a premier Texas immigration law today
The immigration laws are likely to change under the Biden/Harris administration. Executive Orders have already been signed. Some of the proposed new legislation is likely to pass. At Lyttle Law Firm, we understand your immigration concerns and the desire of loved ones to live and work in the United States. We are keeping current with all the laws and regulations as they change. Whether you’re seeking a green card, a temporary visa, US citizenship, or contesting deportation; we have the experience and resources to fight for your rights. Our Austin and San Marcos immigration lawyers represent immigrants and sponsors who live in Travis, Hays, Comal, Williamson, Bell, Caldwell, Burnett, Llano, and Guadalupe Counties. Call us at 512.215.5225 or use our online form to schedule an appointment.