Proposal aims to provide opportunity for immigrants

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President Joe Biden’s proposed immigration bill aims to provide a path to citizenship for nearly 11
million undocumented immigrants. If passed, the law would prioritize DACA recipients. (Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore | creativecommons.org
By Julio Rodriguez

President Joe Biden’s election has brought new hope to this country’s immigrant communities after years of former President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.

For Vanessa Moreno, program director for “Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas,” an immigration advocacy organization, a new administration meant she could breathe easy. Being a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Moreno knew the White House would no longer pursue policies against this country’s immigrant communities.

“With the election of President Biden, there was a sense of relief knowing that we would not have to deal with all of the stress and uncertainty of the previous administration,” she said. “He campaigned on a promise of proposing a law that would create a pathway to citizenship.”

Biden sent to Congress his first signature legislation Jan. 20, aiming to address what he calls “this country’s broken immigration system.” If passed, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would create a pathway to citizenship for almost 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The new legislation proposes to initially grant all undocumented immigrants who qualify a five-year temporary status, after which they would be allowed to apply for lawful permanent residency.

Immediate priority would be granted to DACA beneficiaries, those currently under Temporary Protected Status and agricultural workers. People who qualify under these categories would only have to wait three years before applying for lawful permanent residency. 

“This act supports our communities and does not exclude anyone,” Moreno said. “But as activists and people who support this law, we must stay vigilant and continue to advocate for the passage of this law because it’s going to be a fight.”

Biden’s proposal has drawn growing opposition from high-ranking Republicans and conservatives alike. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, argued that such a law would give too much to people currently here with no lawful status.

“There are many issues I think we can work cooperatively with President-elect Biden,” Rubio said in an Associated Press interview before Biden took office. “But a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them.”

Democrats have previously attempted to pass legislation that could mitigate the immigration issues of this country. On June 15, 2012, President Obama signed the executive order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

There has been much fluctuation in the immigrant population in the last few decades. From 1990 to 2007, the immigrant population grew from 3.5 million to 12.2 million. 

As recently as 2017, this number has decreased by about 2 million. However, there has been a substantial rise in immigrants from Central America and Asia.

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