The White House announced a comprehensive immigration bill yesterday, as President Biden seeks a new approach to helping millions of immigrants. Biden’s immigration bill entitled “the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021,” will be introduced by Democrats Bob Menendez of New Jersey in the Senate and Linda Sanchez of California in the House of Representatives.
The goal of the bill would be to create an 8-year path to citizenship for millions of immigrants already living in the country and to also provide a more expedient track for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The bill essentially has five objectives, including: 1) A pathway to citizenship; 2) Terminology change in removing the word “alien” from immigration laws; 3) Clearing Backlogs by increasing funding for processing asylum applications and increasing funding for Immigration Judges; 4) Reforming the Legal Immigration System; and 5) Investing in US-Mexico Border Infrastructure and improving Central American refugee processing.
Below are 10 key immigration reforms proposed in the Biden Immigration Bill:
- Creating a pathway to Citizenship with an 8 year wait
- Replacing the word “alien” with the term “noncitizen” in Immigration Laws
- Increasing funding to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reduce the backlog of asylum applications.
- Exempting of certain categories from counting toward annual caps
- Increased funding for more Immigration Judges
- Repealing the bars to re-entering the United States if an individual had previously been illegally residing in the country.
- Increasing the number of available diversity visas from 55,000 to 80,000 annually
- Creating a Labor commission to make recommendations to improve worker verification and increase protections for immigrants who come forward to report labor violations
- Enhancing technology and infrastructure at the border, including advanced screening at ports of entry.
- Setting up refugee processing centers in Central America to address issues of smuggling and trafficking
Edward Shulman, Senior Partner and Founder of the Shulman Law Group, an Immigration law firm located in Elmwood Park, New Jersey was interviewed via Zoom about the proposed “ U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021” and its legislative components. On the Zoom conference call entitled “What’s Next for Immigration under the Biden Administration?” Attorney Shulman stated “this long-awaited bill is critically important in modernizing and streamlining our antiquated Immigration System and providing earned roadmaps and pathways to citizenship for undocumented individuals. Noteworthy is the fact that the bill reforms the family-based immigration system and eliminates the “3 and 10-year” unlawful presence bars which keep the families of so many of our clients apart.”
While Shulman was optimistic about the Biden Administration’s goals and humanitarian approach towards immigration, he cautioned that this legislation will likely face partisan battles in a narrowly divided Congress. Shulman also suggested that intending immigrants start the process of seeking immigration advice now to explore their options so that they are ready should new legislation pass.