White House Unveils Expansive Immigration Agenda

  • White House Unveils Expansive Immigration Agenda

White House Unveils Expansive Immigration Agenda

The legislation will benefit the so-called Dreamers, people who were brought to the USA illegally as children and grew up there.

Biden tapped the children of immigrants to shepherd his immigration bill through Congress. Bill sponsors are Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.), the sixth of seven children raised by Mexican immigrants in Southern California, and Sen. They would get a five-year provisional status, then could get a green card and get citizenship three years later.

The Biden plan checks off most of the major wish-list items of immigrant-rights activists, including: funding lawyers for some migrants who want to challenge their deportations; granting speedy legal status to "Dreamers" and farm workers; pouring cash into Latin America for nation-building activities; and slashing barriers to legal immigration.

Advocates for immigrants cheered plans to formally introduce the bill, the broad outlines of which Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office, but said they doubted it would pass. Democrats hold the House, but they need at least 10 Republican votes to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass the Senate.

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'The president feels that all of these requirements that are in the bill - these components of the bill - are what makes it comprehensive, ' White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this week.

Under existing law, anyone convicted of an aggravated felony or a crime involving illegal narcotics is not admissible in the U.S.

For Biden, it is "a chance to kind of reset and restart conversations on immigration reform after the last four years", the senior official added.

Counties and municipalities will be able to petition for additional work visas as needed under the reform bill.

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.

A senior administration official acknowledged that was intentional.

The bill will also replace the term "alien", used to refer to foreigners in immigration legislation, with "non-citizen" "to better reflect the president's values on immigration", the official said.

The proposal also boosts the Diversity Immigrant Visa program, aka the green card lottery, from 55,000 visas to 80,000.

(MORE: Biden creating task force to reunite families separated at the border) © Greg Nash/Pool via Reuters, FILE U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J., speaks during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be the United States Ambassador to the U.N., on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., January 27, 2021.

Despite congressional Republicans' hesitation, the vast majority of Americans support measures similar to what is included in the bill. Biden had a front-row seat to former President Barack Obama's failure to deliver lasting change to the immigration system.

Several questions remain, including whether the legislation will become watered-down over negotiations with Republicans and whether the package will be broken into parts. His administration and congressional Democrats are under pressure from immigration advocates to act quickly to move the bill, but it's unclear how quickly they will pursue passage.

The lawmakers did suggest a willingness to compromise further down the road. "And surely enough, we're starting to see numbers go up".