Democrats to unveil Biden's US immigration reform bill

Democrats to unveil Biden's US immigration reform bill

Thursday, February 18, 2021

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WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Joe Biden's immigration bill, which aims to create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, will be unveiled Thursday to begin its legislative process, senior White House officials said.

"This was a day-one commitment of the president, and it is his vision of what it takes to fix the system," a senior administration official told reporters.

Two Democratic legislators, California Congresswoman Linda Sanchez and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, will present the initiative in the House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively.

The bill aims to create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants who can prove they were in the United States on January 1, 2021.

The legislation will benefit the so-called Dreamers, people who were brought to the United States illegally as children and grew up there.

Then-president Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2012, which offered protection for Dreamers at renewable two-year periods, including authorisation to work.

His successor Donald Trump attempted to end the program in 2017 as part of his crackdown on all kinds of immigration.

The case ended up in the US Supreme Court, which ruled that the Trump administration had not followed proper administrative procedures to end the policy, although the Department of Homeland Security reinstated it only partially.

People benefiting from Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which prevents the deportation of citizens from countries affected by natural disasters or conflict, and farm workers who can show a history of employment in the United States will also be able to get permanent residence.

For Biden, it is "a chance to kind of reset and restart conversations on immigration reform after the last four years," the senior official added.

The Trump administration passed more than 400 executive orders to curb immigration and punish the undocumented.

Since coming to power, Biden has announced a push to reform immigration and roll back his predecessor's hardline policies, including with the creation of a special task force to reunite families separated by Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy towards undocumented immigrants.

Starting this week, he will begin to dismantle the controversial "stay in Mexico" program, which forced tens of thousands of asylum seekers to remain at the border pending resolution of their cases.

The bill will also replace the term "alien," used to refer to foreigners in immigration legislation, with "non-citizen" "to better reflect the president's values on immigration," the official said.


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