President Joe Biden and several Democrats in Congress are poised to unveil a bill on immigration reform called the “U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021” this week, according to NBC News.
The bill reportedly aims to create an “earned” pathway (in NBC News’ words) for 11 million undocumented immigrants and boosts the country’s refugee resettlement program. It also proposes adding more tech at the border, according to NBC News.
Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are spearheading the legislation in their respective chambers.
“From our Dreamers, to the service workers and farmers pulling us through this pandemic, there are too many relying on this reform for us to fail,” Sánchez said in a statement.
“This plan is not only about fixing our broken immigration system, but building a better one that reunites families, brings the undocumented community out of the shadows and on a path to citizenship, stands up for human rights, addresses root causes of migration, and includes a smart border security strategy,” Menendez told NBC News.
Some of Biden’s first actions in office have focused on immigration, with an emphasis on repairing the damage from ex-President Donald Trump’s radical anti-immigration policies. The new president has appointed Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to lead a task force to reunite migrant children with their families after they were separated at the border under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, and he has also signed a series of executive orders that halted the construction of Trump’s border wall and the “Muslim ban.”
Biden also unveiled in early January a proposal to raise the refugee acceptance cap to 125,000 from the country’s historic low of 15,000.
However, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has warned that “now is not the time to come” to the country even as the Biden administration works to undo the Trump-era “remain in Mexico” policy.
“The vast majority of people will be turned away,” she said last Wednesday. “Asylum processes at the border will not occur immediately, will take time to implement.”