President-elect Joe Biden’s first day of his administration will include an immigration bill that will provide an eight-year route to citizenship for roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, officials say.
The Associated Press reported that a person familiar with the bill said it will be introduced on Wednesday after Biden is sworn in as president. The move would provide illegal immigrants with one of the fastest ways to become a citizen of the United States. However, the legislation does not include enhanced border security and could face challenges in the narrowly divided Congress.
According to the legislation, a five-year route to temporary legal status will apply to anyone illegally living in the United States as of January 1, 2021, as long as they pass a background check, pay taxes and fulfill a number of other basic necessities.
After the initial five years, another three-years will lead to naturalization, if the individual chooses to seek citizenship.
Some immigrants could move the process along even quicker. Those who came to the United States as children, in addition to agricultural workers and individuals under temporary protective status, could immediately qualify for green cards as long as they are working, in school or meeting similar requirements.
The bill also excludes several propositions made by Biden on the campaign trail, including bolstered border security components and new guest worker or visa programs.
“Trump has waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants,” the Biden-Harris website states. “Addressing the Trump-created humanitarian crisis at our border, bringing our nation together, reasserting our core values, and reforming our immigration system will require real leadership and real solutions. Biden is prepared on day one to deliver both.”
Reforming Trump administration policies will not be easy, according to Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney and member of the Department of Homeland Security advisory board who spoke with Politico.
“The majority of the Trump administration immigration reforms will be difficult to address immediately either because of legal rule-making barriers, practical realities on the ground or a lack of bandwidth given how many priorities the Biden administration has in contrast to the singular focus on immigration the Trump immigration had,” Fresco noted.
While it is impossible to know exactly how many illegal immigrants are in the United States, the Pew Research Center estimated that the number was around 10.5 million people.
Also on Sunday, a Biden transition official said the migrants seeking asylum “need to understand they’re not going to be able to come into the United States immediately,” NBC News reported.