First 100: Immigration Reform
January 21, 2021
Editor’s Note: On Feb. 18, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 was formally introduced to Congress. Read more about Biden’s remarks on its introduction here.
Now-President Joe Biden introduced a legislative proposal to Congress prior to taking his oath of office on Inauguration Day, which would provide an eight-year path to citizenship for over 10 million undocumented immigrants in the country if passed through both houses.
The bill, entitled the “U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021,” is part of a campaign pledge to “forcefully pursue policies that safeguard our security, provide a fair and just system that helps to grow and enhance our economy, and secure our cherished values,” according to his presidential campaign website.
If signed into law, the citizenship act would first put undocumented migrants, who came to the U.S. prior to Jan. 1, in a temporary status; after five years, this would be followed by then distributing green cards to those who meet certain requirements; and after three years, recipients would be eligible to apply for citizenship. For “dreamers” of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, green card eligibility would be immediate.
Listen: SF State political science professor Ron Hayduk explains what Biden has learned from his time under the Obama administration, and what this bill means moving forward
The president also seeks to expand on the use of technology along the border for security purposes, to create reunification and refugee programs, and work with Central America countries to create policies that tackle root issues of migration in those nations.
As vice president, Biden worked closely with the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador — forming the North Triangle Joint statement, which formalized the U.S.’ interest in addressing the region’s economic and security stability.
“Biden has an opportunity to really be a great president, and the Biden administration has a real opportunity to make a tremendous impact,” SF State political science professor Ron Hayduk said. “And it would really necessitate something like a Marshall Plan for Central America, for Mexico, for some of the developing world, essentially, to stem the tide.”
According to Roberto Suro, a USC public policy professor interviewed by the LA Times, it is not likely that the bill will be seen in Congress until the fall, at the earliest.