Newsman: President-elect Joe Biden will roll out a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws on the day he is inaugurated, including an eight-year pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status and an expansion of refugee admissions, along with an enforcement plan that deploys technology to patrol the border., Biden’s legislative proposal will be sent to Congress on Wednesday, also includes a heavy focus on addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, a key part of Biden’s foreign policy portfolio when he served as vice president. The details were described by transition officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, The Washington post and CNN reported today.
The centerpiece of the plan from Biden and Harris is the eight-year pathway, which would put millions of qualifying immigrants in a temporary status for five years and then grant them a green card once they meet certain requirements such as a background check and payment of taxes. They would be able to apply for citizenship three years later.
According to the report, Biden’s bill will have three overarching pillars, the transition officials said: provisions to address the causes of migration, border management and a path to citizenship and to qualify, immigrants must have been in the United States as of Jan. 1, a move meant to blunt any rush to the border.
Beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which granted key protections for “dreamers” — and the temporary protected status program for migrants from disaster-ravaged nations could apply for a green card immediately.
“Having leadership makes a big difference,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in an interview Monday. “You cannot achieve immigration reform without presidential leadership, and from what I see, the seriousness of their purpose to start off with gives me a real good feeling that the president-elect is actually going to use capital to try to make this happen.”
After that collapse, pressure from Democratic lawmakers and immigration advocates pushed Obama to issue a wide-reaching effort aimed at protecting parents of U.S. citizen children and green-card holders in the country illegally, but that action promptly was blocked in the courts.
Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate tried to pass various revisions to U.S. immigration laws and the unilateral attempt to cancel the temporary protections for the young immigrants ultimately was rejected by the Supreme Court on push to end DACA.
The focus on Central America reflects the message that Biden has relayed to senior officials in the region: that he will advocate for policy changes aimed at what drives scores of migrants there to come to the United States illegally to seek safe harbor.
“Ultimately, you cannot solve problems of migration unless you attack the root causes of what causes that migration,” one official told to Washington post’s reporter Seung Min Kim, pointing to the various reasons — from economic to safety — that drive migrants to flee their home countries. “He knows that in particular is the case in Central America.”
Transition officials are aware of recent reports of the increased numbers of migrants at or heading to the border in anticipation of the end of Trump’s presidency, and urged them to stay in their home countries. They emphasized that newly arriving immigrants would not qualify for the legalization program that Biden proposes.
Biden wants to move the refugee and asylum systems “back to a more humane and orderly process,” the official said. But “it’s also been made clear that that isn’t a switch you flip overnight from the 19th to the 20th, especially when you’re working with agencies and processes that have been so gutted by the previous administration.”
Acoording to the report by Washington post’s reporter Seung Min Kim , Biden hopes to reinstate a program granting minors from Central America temporary legal residence in the United States. The Trump administration terminated the program in August 2017, as Biden’s officials said. The administration also wants to set up a reunification program for Central American relatives of U.S. citizens that would allow those who have been already approved for U.S. residency to be admitted into the country, rather than waiting at home for an opening. The program would be similar to ones that existed for Cubans and Haitians but also were ended by the Trump administration.
The Biden proposal also would put in place a refugee admissions program at multiple processing centers abroad that would better help identify and screen those who would qualify to be admitted as refugees into the United States. As for border enforcement, the plan calls on the Department of Homeland Security to develop a proposal that uses technology and other similar infrastructure to implement new security measures along the border, both at and between ports of entry. Biden has long vowed not to expand the border wall Trump has marginally extended.
The legislation from the Biden White House also will contain several revisions to the legal immigration process, according to transition officials.
It bolsters the number of key employment- and family-based visas available by recapturing unused visas from previous years and exempting spouses and children of green-card holders from quotas that restrict immigrants from varying countries from immediately entering the United States.
It also grants work permits for spouses and children of temporary worker visa holders, although the number of available H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers and H2-B visas for lower-skilled non-agriculture workers won’t be expanded, officials said.
Doctoral graduates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields also are exempted from visa limits that critics say have led to talented immigrants moving elsewhere around the globe, depriving the United States of their ingenuity.
The incoming administration has said Biden will issue a flurry of executive orders on his first day, including one that would repeal the ban on citizens of some majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States. In another potential executive action, the Biden administration plans to review temporarily protected status programs “across the board” to see which programs ended by the Trump White House — including benefits for immigrants who fled El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti — could be reinstated.
Transition officials declined to rule out other immigration executive actions should attempts at legislating fail, but emphasized that only Congress can implement certain changes, such as a path to citizenship.
“The president-elect supports resources that are there, and his secretary of homeland security will use them in a smart and humane way,” another official said. “But we really need Congress to step up.”
The Biden effort would mark the most substantial attempt at a comprehensive immigration overhaul since the Senate passed legislation in 2013, only to have it collapse in the House, then controlled by Republicans, the following year.