Published: Fri, February 19, 2021
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What's in Joe Biden's sweeping immigration bill being rolled out in Congress?

What's in Joe Biden's sweeping immigration bill being rolled out in Congress?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement rolled out new measures Thursday that limit the categories of immigrants its officers can arrest within the United States.

But while the plan offers one of the fastest pathways to citizenship of any proposed measure in recent years, it does so without offering any enhanced border security, which past immigration negotiations have used as a way to win Republican votes. Applicants will have five years of temporary legal status, then they'll be allowed to apply for green cards. They would immediately become eligible for green cards and could apply for citizenship after three years.

The bill will make efforts to ease immigration timelines overseas, increasing numerous types of visa caps while seeking to reduce wait times for those who may now wait as long as 20 years to join family in the country. It also would provide resources for more judges, support staff and technology to address the backlog in processing asylum seekers.

Since coming to power, Biden has announced a push to reform immigration and roll back his predecessor's hardline policies, including with the creation of a special task force to reunite families separated by Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy towards undocumented immigrants. And it would try to reduce the burden at the border by setting up refugee processing in Central America, to try to prevent some of the immigrant caravans that have overwhelmed border security in recent years.

The plan includes $4 billion spread over four years to try to boost economic development and tackle corruption in Latin American countries, to lessen pressure for migration to the U.S.

"Our border policy is broken, period", Sanchez said.

So the challenge will be "compromising" with the Republican legislators who largely stayed mum in the face of Trump's heinous immigration actions during his time in office and benefited from a base riled up by exclusionary rhetoric about building a wall on the border.

Both former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush had attempted to put their stamp on immigration by unveiling proposals that included pathways to citizenship, but both plans were rejected by Congress.

Menendez was part of the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators who negotiated a 2013 bill that ultimately collapsed.

"No! This is not the right time and certainly not the right set of policies", House Republican Bill Johnson tweeted on Thursday.

The guidelines instruct Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to focus on immigrants deemed national security and public safety threats and those who entered the United States after November 1, 2020.

While Biden is pushing a comprehensive bill, he suggested earlier this week he may be open to a more piecemeal approach.

Biden indicated at a CNN town hall Tuesday night that he is open to alternate routes to citizenship - such as stand-alone bills that would legalize smaller groups of immigrants such as farmworkers - but he called the bill "a reasonable path to citizenship".

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