Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 – The Highlights

Joe Biden has proposed an ambitious immigration reform package to overhaul America’s antiquated immigration laws. According to the fact sheet released by the Biden administration on January 20, 2021, Biden proposes to streamline the path to citizenship for “hardworking people who enrich” America. The proposed legislation proposed to address “the root causes of migration from Central America” and seeks to ensure that the “United States remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution.” [1]

Legalizing 11 Million

The proposed Biden package offers a pathway for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America today to legalize their status in the country. In addition to reforming U.S. immigration law to allow the undocumented immigrants an opportunity to legalize, the proposal also shortens the time to become a citizen from eleven years to eight years.

One important requirement to the proposed law is that undocumented immigrants must have been present in the United States before January 1, 2021.

Those who were deported under the Trump presidency and who had been present in the United States at least three years before being deported also qualify under the Biden proposal. To qualify, the individuals who were deported must have been deported after January 20, 2017.

DACA and Others

In addition to allowing undocumented immigrants to legalize, the Biden administration is also offering a streamlined citizenship pathway for the Dreamers (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – DACA) and others living in the country under temporary immigration statuses, most of whom are under the TPS program.

America Is A Country of Immigrants

The Biden immigration proposal officially recognizes that America is a country of immigrants.

To enshrine “America as a nation of immigrants,” the Biden immigration reform package proposes doing away with the word “alien” in immigration law and replacing it with “noncitizen.”

Other Immigrant Benefits

In addition to recognizing America as a “nation of immigrants,” the Biden proposal includes previously excluded individuals under the family reunification schemes such as LGBTQ families. It also increases Diversity Visas from 55,000 to 80,000.

The Biden immigration proposal recognizes immigrants seeking to immigrate for economic reasons in addition to uniting families are seeking protection from persecution or natural disasters.

Protecting Immigrants

The Biden immigration reform proposal enhances protection for immigrants by allowing for rescue stations to used along the border, increasing oversight of the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and increasing funding to agencies helping asylum seekers.

The Biden immigration reform package has not been released in its entirety. The Biden administration has only released talking points and fact sheets detailing what is included in the proposal.

Congress has not received the proposed legislation; however, it is expected to be presented to Congress within the first 100 days of Biden’s administration.

Click here for full details of the Biden Immigration Reform Proposal

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