Joe Biden promised to unveil a substantial immigration reform legislation package during his first days in office. Today, the Biden administration proposed legislation was unveiled. The House version of the immigration package is sponsored by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA). The Senate version is sponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
In late January Sánchez announced a group of seven House women to lead the charge for immigration reform at the House. Sánchez is now sponsoring the proposed legislation.
On January 20, 2021, the Biden administration released a fact sheet outlining the proposed immigration reform package. Among the most significant items in the legislation was the removal of the word “alien” from official government documents and expedited citizenship pathways for undocumented immigrants living in America.
The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 unveiled today includes significant changes to America’s immigration policy.
Asylum Seekers To Return From México
The Biden administration has made several changes to Donald Trump’s immigration policies since day one of his administration. Among them include stopping wall construction and ending the Remain in Mexico policy that forced asylum seekers to wait in México.
Tomorrow, the asylum seekers that remain in México will be allowed to enter the United States through three border entry points to await a decision on their asylum claims.
The Biden administration also paused deportations until policy changes at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could be implemented.
However, the State of Texas filed a court injunction delaying the deportation pause based on a letter signed by the Trump administration during their last days in office.
DHS Resists Immigration Reform
The last-minute DHS letters signed with several states like Texas forces the federal government to wait 120 days before implementing significant changes to immigration policies. A judge agreed and the deportation pause is stalled.
Evidence has also surfaced that DHS is expediting deportations while the court reviews the Texas lawsuit.
Although it is expected that the Republicans will object to several key aspects of Biden’s immigration reform proposal, there seems to be an opening for approving pieces of the proposed legislation in smaller packages.
For example, on February 4, 2021, Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the Dream Act 2021 legislation providing immigrants protected from deportation by Barack Obama’s Deferred Action on Children Arrivals (DACA) a pathway to legalization and eventual citizenship.
Durbin and Graham have introduced the legislation twice starting in 2001 but it has not been voted on.
This is the first substantial immigration reform package in over a decade.
The proposed legislation can be downloaded here in PDF format.