Biden immigration reform bill to be introduced in Congress, providing a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people

  • Lawmakers are introducing a bill Thursday that reflects President Biden’s immigration reform agenda.
  • The bill will provide a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people.
  • “We are signalling that these populations are important,” an administration official said.
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Congressional allies of US President Joe Biden are introducing an immigration reform bill Thursday that will reflect “his vision of what it takes to fix the system,” an administration official said on a call with reporters. 

The package would provide an 8-year path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people — slashed to three years for eligible farm workers; people brought to the US as children; and those who were granted temporary protected status for fleeing natural and manmade disasters.

“We are signalling that these populations are important,” the official continued.  

The bill will be introduced in the House by California Democrat Linda Sánchez and, a week later, in the upper chamber by Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.

In a rebuke of the previous administration, the legislation would ramp up spending to facilitate the asylum process, and provide funds for more judges as well as legal counsel for children and “vulnerable individuals.” It would also eliminate the current one-year deadline to apply for asylum after entering the country.

Additionally, the package would provide funding for refugee-processing facilities in Central America that an administration official described to reporters as a means of eliminating the need for migrants to travel in large caravans across multiple countries.

Undocumented immigrants would also no longer face a three to 10-year ban from the United States for leaving and attempting to reenter the country.

Diversity visas, provided to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the US, would be increased from 50,000 per year to 85,000, according to an administration official.

Officials declined to say whether the president would be open to passing aspects of the bill on a piecemeal basis. It faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where 10 Republican votes would be needed to overcome a filibuster. Officials would not say whether the president supports passing immigration measures via reconciliation, which lowers the bar to 50 votes.

The bill comes after President Biden announced earlier this month that he intends to raise the annual cap on refugees admitted to the US from 15,000 — an historic low imposed by Donald Trump — to 125,000. Soon after taking office, Biden also imposed a 100-day moratorium on deportations, although that order was suspended by a US judge.  

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