Thursday February 18th, Democrats in congress introduced a comprehensive immigration bill, backed by President Joe Biden that could grant status to approximately 11-million immigrants and dramatically transform US Immigration Policy.
The US Citizenship Act of 2021 establishes an 8-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived to the US by January 1st 2021. The act gives undocumented immigrants 5 years provisional status, after which they could apply for a green card. Three years after that they could apply for citizenship.
It also creates an expedited path to citizenship for farmworkers and DACA recipients. By providing work history and background checks, certain qualified applicants could skip over the 5 years provisional status and become eligible for green cards more quickly.
In order to be eligible, applicants must be physically present in the United States on or before January 1st 2021. However, the Department of Homeland Security may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20th, 2017 who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes.
The US Citizenship Act of 2021 would also:
- Replace the word “alien” to “non-citizen” and the term “alienage” with “non-citizenship” in effort to “humanize” the language used for immigrants;
- Prohibit family separation for the purposes of deterrent;
- Increase Diversity Visas to 80,000 from 55,000;
- Repeal the penalty that prohibits undocumented immigrants who leave the country from returning to the US for between 3-10 years;
- Expand transnational anti-drug task force in Central America and increase funding for technology at the southern border.
In order for congress to pass the US Citizenship Act of 2021, all Democrats and 10 Republicans must vote in favor of the bill. Many congressional Democrats acknowledge this will be a difficult task; however, Senator Bob Menendez (NY-D) insists that “We will never win an argument that we don’t have the courage to make,” assuring, “We will do the righteous thing and make our case for both inclusive and lasting immigration reform. And we have seen in poll after poll, the vast majority of Americans are standing with us.”