Are Biden administration efforts on immigration lawful?
Former acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf reacts to President Biden’s day one actions on immigration.
President Biden’s immigration proposal would make illegal immigrant farmworkers immediately eligible for green cards — one of a number of provisions to grant legal status to millions in a bill that is facing significant Republican opposition.
The bill includes an 8-year path to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants in the country, which involves a five-year path to a green card and then a three year path to citizenship after that.
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In a fact sheet released last week, the Biden administration announced that farmworkers, along with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients would immediately be eligible for green cards. They would then be eligible for citizenship three years later.
A draft summary of the legislation obtained by Fox News says that agricultural workers would be able to adjust status after background checks and payment of applicable fees if they have worked 400 days or more in a five year period. It would include seasonal or temporary work.
It’s a move that’s been greeted warmly by labor and immigrant activist groups.
“Under the Biden bill, farm workers with work histories would immediately get legal status, along with Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status recipients,” United Farm Workers President Teresa Romero said in a statement. “This bill is fundamentally different than what any other president has ever done in emancipating farm workers so they can escape pervasive fear and behave like free women and men.”
“Not only is its content remarkable, but never before has a U.S. president presented his own comprehensive immigration reform measure on Day One in office,” she said. “Now we must work to turn this vision into reality.”
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The bill, which would also allow spouses and children to gain green cards, also includes labor protections and other measures to benefit farmworkers.
But whether the bill can pass through Congress seems doubtful. While it has a solid path through the House, where the Democrats control the chamber, in the Senate it would need the support of 10 Republicans — and it so far seems unlikely that it is possible.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was part of the 2013 “Gang of Eight” which negotiated an immigration compromise that stalled in the House, said the bill was a non-starter.
“America should always welcome immigrants who want to become Americans. But we need laws that decide who and how many people can come here, and those laws must be followed and enforced,” Rubio said in a statement.
“There are many issues I think we can work cooperatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” he said
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said last week that the Biden administration has “sketched out a massive proposal for blanket amnesty that would gut enforcement of American laws while creating huge new incentives for people to rush here illegally at the same time.”
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who is leading the push to get it through the upper chamber, said in a call last week that it would be a tough task getting it through Congress.
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“As someone who has been in these battles for nearly two decades, I am under no illusions. I know from my time in the Gang of Eight that passing immigration reform through the Senate particularly is a Herculean task,” he said.
Menendez said those in the business community need to “give it everything you’ve got,” while telling those in advocacy and labor groups: “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
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