Democrats to introduce immigration bill that offers pathway to citizenship in 8 years and expedited green cards

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A border official checks a passport at the border crossing between Tijuana and the USA.

Omar Martinez | picture alliance | Getty Images

Democrats in Congress are set to introduce a sweeping immigration bill backed by President Joe Biden Thursday.

On a call with reporters Wednesday evening, Biden administration officials previewed the legislation. According the officials, the proposed bill, among other provisions, would:

  • Establish an 8-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. by Jan. 1
  • Provide expedited green cards to farm workers and undocumented young people who arrived in the U.S. as children with temporary protected status under DACA
  • Replace the word “alien” with “non-citizen” in law
  • Raise the per-country caps on family and employment-based legal immigration numbers
  • Repeal the penalty that prohibits undocumented immigrants who leave the country from returning to the U.S. for between three to ten years
  • Expand transnational anti-drug task forces in Central America

Lead sponsors Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., are set to release the full text of the the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 Thursday.

While Democrats hold thin majorities in both chambers of Congress, the legislation would require a minimum of 10 Republican votes to defeat a Senate filibuster.

When asked whether the president would support abolishing the Senate filibuster or using a budget reconciliation process that would only require a simple majority, Biden administration officials would not directly answer.

“It’s just too early to speculate about it now,” one White House official said. “We want to first defer to our sponsors of this bill about what’s possible and look to leadership on the Hill about how they want to move immigration.”

Congress has not passed a large, comprehensive immigration reform bill in decades. In 2013, a bipartisan bill passed in the Democratic-led Senate but never came up for a vote in the Republican-controlled House.



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