Immigration

California Congresswomen Leading The Fight For Immigration Reform


Now that Joe Biden has offered an ambitious immigration reform package that should soon reach the Congress, the question becomes, who in Congress will help push the proposed legislation forward? It is expected that there will be significant resistance to the proposal, as such members of Congress who support the reforms will have to lobby their colleagues to overcome the resistance.

California congresswoman, Linda Sánchez (D) has put together a group of seven legislatures to help get Biden’s immigration proposal through Congress. She has named her legislator’s group, the “Closers”.

The Closers want to get immigration reform “done once and for all.”

Sánchez is the chairwomen of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Immigration Task Force. [1]

The Biden immigration reform proposal seeks to legalize undocumented immigrants living in America and streamline the pathway to citizenship. Biden’s proposal also includes economic migrants who have generally been left out of the immigration process.

The last major immigration reform package was in 1986, a package shepherded into legislation by Republican president, Ronald Regan. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) legalized about 2.7 million undocumented immigrants. [2]

Two studies looking into what happened to the nearly 3 million immigrants who benefited from Reagan’s legislation have been published. One report shows that by 1996, “a quarter of a million” of the IRCA recipients became citizens. By 2001, The Washington Post reports, “one-third” of the IRCA immigrant had become citizens. [2]

What the naturalization rate demonstrates, according to the researchers, is that immigrants weren’t looking for citizenship, but rather for the opportunity to work in the United States. [2]

Anecdotally, Mexican immigrants, particularly, usually seek to return home to México in the long run. The studies into how many have become citizens suggests this is true.

Who Are The Closers?

The Closers, as Sánchez has labeled her immigration legislation group, includes Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Lucille Roy-Allard (D-CA), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Judy Chu (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-CA), and Karen Bass (D-CA), as well as Sánchez. [1]

The Whitehouse has not offered a timetable to when they will present the legislation to Congress.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is leading the effort at the Senate.

Footnotes:

  1. Rebecca Morin, “Meet the 7 congresswomen who are steering Biden’s immigration agenda in the House,” USA Today, January 29, 2021.
  2. Emily Badger, “What happened to the millions of immigrants granted legal status under Ronald Reagan?” The Washington Post, November 26, 2014.

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