Biden's Aggressive Plan for Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants

Even before taking office, the Biden administration already unveiled a plan aimed at legalizing the undocumented immigrants in the United States. The details of Biden's plan have not been released yet. Broadly speaking, it proposes granting the over 11 million undocumented immigrants permanent residence. The path to citizenship would also be shortened to eight years: permanent residence eligibility would be after 5 years and citizenship eligibility after 3 years. Essential workers in particular who provided valuable services during the pandemic would be granted permanent residence. Additionally, those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) would be able to gain permanent residence and later citizenship. Biden has stated that he intends to not only restore DACA but also ask Congress to make it permanent. The President and his Vice President have also denounced the treatment of asylum seekers at the border. Policies such as making asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their case is processing are expected to be abolished. In order for the undocumented immigrants to obtain legal status under the Biden proposal, they would be required to pay taxes, pass background checks and to pay fines. Individuals with a criminal background would not be eligible. Biden also requires them to be living in the US as of January 1, 2021. Biden's bold immigration plan will likely be challenged by the divided Congress.  It would be difficult to get enough support from Congressional members to pass such an ambitious bill. Compromises will likely be made by toning it down to appeal to more Republicans  so that it can be passed.  Still, by aiming high, Biden has made it clear that immigration reform will be a major focus of his administration from the beginning. 


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