Biden to propose 8-year citizenship path for immigrants


WASHINGTON (AP) – President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on day one of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people alive in the United States without legal status, a huge reversal of the Trump administration’s tough immigration policies.

The legislation puts Biden on track to deliver on a major election promise important to Latin American voters and other immigrant communities after four years of restrictive policies and mass expulsions by President Donald Trump. It provides one of the quickest paths to citizenship for those who have lived without legal status of any measure in recent years, but it does not include the traditional compromise of enhanced border security favored by many Republicans, making the passage in a Congress narrowly divided in doubt. .

Having to run through hundreds of pages, the bill is expected to be introduced after Biden is sworn in on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the legislation and on condition of anonymity to discuss it.

As a candidate, Biden called Trump’s immigration actions a “relentless assault” on American values ​​and said he would “repair the damage” while continuing to uphold border enforcement.

By law, people living in the United States on January 1, 2021, without legal status, would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes. and fulfill other basic requirements. . From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization, if they decide to apply for citizenship.

For some immigrants, the process would be faster. The so-called Dreamers, young people who arrived in the United States illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people on temporary protection status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they work, are in school or meet other requirements.

The bill is not as comprehensive as the last major immigration overhaul proposed when Biden was vice president under the Obama administration.

For example, it does not include a strong element of border security, but rather calls for the development of strategies. It also does not create a new guest worker or other visa programs.

It tackles some of the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States and provides grants for workforce development and English language learning.

Biden is expected to quickly take executive action to reverse Trump’s other immigration measures, including ending the ban on arrivals from several Muslim-majority countries.

During the Democratic primary, Biden consistently named immigration action as one of his ‘first day’ priorities, highlighting the range of executive powers he could invoke to reverse Trump’s policies. .

Biden’s allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue on which the new administration could find common ground with Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and enough other GOP senators to avoid a deadlock. which has annoyed the administrations of both parties for decades.

This kind of major victory – even if it involves compromise – could be critical as Biden seeks legislative victories in a tightly divided Congress, where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities that involve rolling back. some of the GOP tax cuts in 2017 and increase the federal government. expenses.

As a candidate, Biden went so far as to say that the Obama administration went too far in its aggressive expulsions.


Barrow reported from Wilmington, Del. Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.

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