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New US laws to give undocumented migrants a pathway to citizenship

  • New US laws to give undocumented migrants a pathway to citizenship
    Biden administration’s proposed legislation would allow eligible immigrants to apply for temporary legal status and right to work New US laws to give undocumented migrants a pathway to citizenship
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President Joe Biden’s administration is joining Democrats on Capitol Hill to unveil a major immigration overhaul that would offer an eight-year pathway to citizenship to the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status.

Biden administration’s proposed legislation would allow eligible immigrants to apply for temporary legal status and right to work

President Joe Biden’s administration is joining Democrats on Capitol Hill to unveil a major immigration overhaul that would offer an eight-year pathway to citizenship to the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status.

After two decades of failing to advance meaningful immigration reform, Joe Biden and his allies on Capitol Hill are reviving the effort, which the new president has signalled will be a top domestic priority.

The proposal, based on the principles Biden outlined on his first day in office, will be introduced in the House by California congresswoman Linda Sánchez and in the Senate by New Jersey senator Bob Menendez, both Democrats with experience negotiating immigration legislation in Congress.

According to administration officials, eligible undocumented immigrants could apply for temporary legal status, which confers work permits and deportation relief. After five years, they could apply for a green card as part of an eight-year path to citizenship.

Some immigrants, including farmworkers, those with Temporary Protected Status and undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, would be eligible to apply for green cards immediately, the officials said on a call with reporters on Wednesday night. After three years, they could apply to become US citizens.

To avoid a surge at the border, petitioners must have been in the US by 1 January 2021, and would have to pass all required criminal and national security checks as well as file taxes and pay application fees.

The proposal also attempts to streamline and expand the legal immigration system by raising the current caps on family and employer-based immigrant visas. Spouses, legal partners and children of permanent residents would be exempt from the current per-country caps, which administration officials said would dramatically reduce wait times. It would also explicitly include same-sex partners as immediate relatives.

But while the plan offers one of the fastest pathways to citizenship of any proposed measure in recent years, it does so without offering any enhanced border security, which past immigration negotiations have used as a way to win Republican votes. Without enhanced security, it faces tough odds in a closely divided Congress.

The bill would immediately provide green cards to farm workers, those with temporary protected status and young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. For others living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, the plan establishes a five-year path to temporary legal status, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements. Then, after three years, they can pursue citizenship.

The plan would raise the current per-country caps for family and employment-based immigrant visas. It would eliminate the penalty barring those immigrants who live in the U.S. without authorization and who then leave the country from returning for three to 10 years. It also would provide resources for more judges, support staff and technology to address the backlog in processing asylum seekers.

The bill would expand transnational anti-drug task forces in Central America and enhances technology at the border. And it would try to reduce the burden at the border by setting up refugee processing in Central America, to try to prevent some of the immigrant caravans that have overwhelmed border security in recent years.

The plan includes $4 billion spread over four years to try to boost economic development and tackle corruption in Latin American countries, to try to address some of the root causes of migration to the U.S.