Part 2: Immigration Reform in Congress
Last week, we looked at two bills regarding immigration reforms for specific groups of people (Dreamers and agricultural workers). But what about the complete overhaul of our immigration system that has been talked about on both sides of the aisle for many years? In February, the Biden Administration introduced The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 in both the House and Senate. At 353 pages long, this is the most comprehensive of the pending immigration-related bills. Proposed changes include:
- Providing temporary legal status for undocumented individuals who are already in the U.S., with the ability to apply for a green card after 5 years. Applicants would need to pass criminal and security checks and pay their taxes to be eligible.
- Immediate green card eligibility for Dreamers (people brought to the U.S. unlawfully as children), Temporary Protected Status holders, and farm workers.
- Clearing family-based immigration backlogs and broadening family definitions to eliminate discrimination against LGBTQ+ families.
- Eliminating the 3-year and 10-year unlawful presence bars that can keep families apart for extended time periods.
- Prohibiting discrimination based on religion and limiting presidential authority to issue future visa bans.
- Eliminating per-country visa caps for employment-based green cards, which would greatly benefit applicants from India, China, and the Philippines.
- Providing work authorization to the spouses of non-immigrant H-1B workers.
- Additional funding for high-tech border control systems at and between ports of entry on the Southern border.
- Increasing international assistance to Central American countries to combat the root causes of migration and establishing Designated Processing Centers throughout the region to resettle displaced persons (in the U.S. or partner countries).
- Giving immigration judges discretion to grant relief to deserving individuals.
Of course, all these changes are only proposals for now. There is sure to be heated debate over many of these ideas, but hopefully we will finally see some meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform come out of this Congress.