(CNN)The White House announced a sweeping immigration bill Thursday that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for millions of immigrants already in the country and provide a faster track for undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.
The legislation faces an uphill climb in a narrowly divided Congress, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just a five-vote margin and Senate Democrats do not have the 60 Democratic votes needed to pass the measure with just their party's support.
READ: Text of Biden-supported immigration bill
Administration officials argued Wednesday evening that the legislation was an attempt by President Joe Biden to restart a conversation on overhauling the US immigration system and said he remained open to negotiating.
"He was in the Senate for 36 years, and he is the first to tell you the legislative process can look different on the other end than where it starts," one administration official said in a call with reporters, adding that Biden would be "willing to work with Congress."
Many people come to America with the dream of being able to escape the system of poverty into which they were born. Many people come to America despite coming from a family of privilege because they believe that there is a better opportunity for them, here, going as far as seeking citizenship as a permanent resident. Many young people from affluent families across the globe come to America for higher education. No national dream is as famous across the world as the American Dream. With each new president, the path to achieving it for those not born in America is rerouted. What does the Biden administration mean for those with the dream of coming to America in order to offer freedom to their families?
A Path To Citizenship
The proposed immigration plan would offer an eight-year plan towards citizenship for people already living in the United States. A clean background check and history of paying taxes for five years can allow for applying for a Green Card. This could then lead to applying for citizenship after three years.
Those offered DACA protection would also be offered a chance to take part in this three-year path towards citizenship. Even those who have lived in the United States for three years, but were removed during the Trump Administration, will have a chance to reunite with family or have access to other resources.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, DACA, is more famous by its name than its purpose. Under the Obama-Biden administration, it was a supplement to the DREAM Act. It offered protection to those who were brought to the United States as children through their parents’ immigration and were productive citizens since being here. It allowed those who passed a background check to obtain temporary work permits and avoid deportation.
Biden’s administration will reinstate this DACA protection that was removed by the Trump administration. This includes exploring all legal options to protect children from being separated from their families. Protections are to be extended to federal student aid as well as offering access to community colleges so that “dreamers” can contribute even more to the economy.
More foreign workers
The Biden Immigration Reform Plan looks to increase the annual limits of family-based immigration, as well as eliminate the limits for employment visas. It also exempts family members of green card holders from being restricted by employment-based immigration quotas. This, also, expands the number of green cards available for those looking to immigrate for work opportunities.
Good For the Economy
It is impossible to accurately predict the future. However, history can repeat, and certain things can be foreseen. Kyle Anderson, with the IU Kelley School of Business, asserts that policy decisions such as this one creates small changes over time. Immigration tends to be good for the economy, adding to the labor force.
The increase to the workforce leads to an increase in tax revenue for governments as well as leads to disposable income for the marketplace. With such a large number of American’s on path to retire and create such a burden on programs such as Medicare and Social Security, additional contributors to these systems helps prevent shutdowns and cuts.
What’s in a Name?
Few words are as alienating as “alien.” It emphasizes separation and the creation of an “us” and a “them”. The word has so frequently been used in a derogatory manner that it tends to dehumanize people who are merely seeking a better life. A part of this administration’s immigration plan is to replace the word “alien” with “noncitizen” in United States immigration laws as a way of introducing terminology that suggests a future citizen’s status as just that - a pending citizenship, a future “us” rather than an eternal “them.”
Becoming an American
Unless you were born here, there are a lot of things to do on the path to becoming an American. For many, now maybe the chance to realize the American Dream. President Biden will not have an easy task. There will be detractors, critics and extreme opposition. But he wants to be the President to unite. Let’s wish him well.
One of the issues that helped to propel Joe Biden to victory over President Trump was immigration. For many, the visions of seeing children locked in cages and sleeping on concrete floors, while shivering underneath foil blankets was far more than they could handle. While most Americans agree that the United States needs to do something to address immigration, they found Trump's wrecking ball approach to the issue far too much to digest. Biden has promised to reverse many of the immigration policies instituted by his predecessor in an effort to restore America’s reputation as being a compassionate, humane country that lives up to the encryption etched into the statue of Liberty, which reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your Huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Mass Deportation Under Obama
There is something to keep in mind in regards to any proposals Biden may have in regards to modernizing the immigration system in America. Critics will be quick to remind him that he was vice president during the Obama administration. This could be weaponized and used against Biden as he moves forward with a progressive immigration agenda. Although the Obama administration approached the issue of immigration humanely, and advocated for the passage of laws which would offer asylum seekers pathways to citizenship, the administration was still responsible for the deportation of millions of people, and the expansion of family detention.
The massive levels of deportations that took place during president Obama’s time in office, is something that has not been forgotten by many in the Latin community. This is evidenced by the support Donald Trump received from the latin community in the last election. Mr. Trump’s support among latino voters grew from 28 percent in the 2016 election to 32 percent in the 2020 election. Despite the visible contrast and narratives created around Trump’s no tolerance policy and the documented maltreatment and abuses committed against children and asylum seekers. Trump’s rhetoric regarding the support of the rule of law, and his self proclamation of being the defender of religious freedom during the COVID-19 pandemic, helped him garner support among some blocks of the Latino voting block.
A Promise To Unite
The president-elect has stated that one of his top priorities within his first 100 days as president, is to reunite parents and their children who were separated at the border when Donald Trump's zero tolerance policy was instituted. Making good on this promise would go a long way in re- re-establishing the trust and assurance many in the Latino community would need to fully support family immigration policies proposed by president-elect Biden in the future. Another item that ranks high on Biden’s list of priorities is the Musulin travel ban Trump placed on travelers coming to the United States from 13 mostly African countries. Biden has vowed to overturn this policy on the first day of his presidency. Biden moving forward with his promise to halt the building of Trump's border wall is a move that will also be welcomed by indigenous groups, and environmental advocacy groups. This will most certainly go a long way with landowners in the region who have for a large part, been successful in staving off eminent domain by forcing the Trump administration to prove the government’s need to take their land in court.
Open Doors to Foreign Workers
One of the things that Biden has talked about often on the campaign trail is the importance of opening the nation’s doors to foreign workers. Biden has stated that as president, he would work with congress to ensure that the United States makes the process of obtaining temporary, and keeping valid work visas more flexible. Biden has also stated that he wants to establish safeguards requiring employers to pay their foreign workers a fair wage and guarantee their right to exercise their rights as designated through the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board. This would give foreign workers the opportunity to join a labor organization if they desired. Obtaining a fair and livable wage for foreign workers in the United States helps ensure the same for all American workers.
Mr Biden has proposed a long list of changes to modernize immigration, and move the country forward, like increasing the number of permanent, employment based visas, creating mechanisms to decrease the number of visas for immigrants temporarily when unemployment reaches high levels in the United States. Biden also plans to establish a new category of visa which would allow municipalities and counties to petition for more immigrant visas to aid in the economic strategy of their region.
In terms of what Mr. Biden will be able to check off of his list will depend on his ability to negotiate with congressional members from across the aisle. Many of the things Biden has vowed to do can be done through executive order, however, policies enacted through executive orders can always be overturned by another administration, and Biden knows it. Biden will have to find a way to make good on his promises in the short term, and work towards a permanent congressional solution simultaneously to protect any gains he makes towards modernizing the immigration system in the United States.
October 16 - 22
US Election 2020: Trump's Impact on Immigration - in Seven Charts
BBC | Ed Lowther | October 22
"The number of foreign-born people living in the US has risen by about 3% from 43.7 million the year before Mr Trump's election to about 45 million last year.
But this rise conceals a big shift in the largest group by far within this population - those who have moved to the US from Mexico. Having remained at nearly the same level for years, the number of people living in the US who were born in Mexico has fallen steadily since Mr Trump's election. While this dip was more than offset by an increase in the number of people who have moved to the US from elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean, demographers at the US Census Bureau have estimated that net migration - the number of people moving to the US minus those moving out of the US - has fallen to its lowest level for a decade."
ICE Plans to Target Undocumented Immigrations Who Didn't Voluntarily Leave the US
CNN | Priscilla Alvarez | October 22
"Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to launch an operation to find and deport undocumented immigrants who failed to voluntarily depart the United States despite previously committing to do so, according to a draft memo obtained by CNN. It's the latest in a string of operations launched by ICE, the enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security, in recent months after the agency said it would largely focus enforcement on public safety risks amid the coronavirus pandemic. Senior administration officials on the road to sell Trump's 'law-and-order' campaign message In the run up to November 3, and with early voting already underway, ICE and DHS are amplifying, with speeches and news conferences, a series of operations, particularly in jurisdictions that have adopted policies limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities."
The Day That America Lost $100 Billion Because of an Immigration Visa Ban
Brookings | Dany Bahar, Prithwiraj Choudhury, and Britta Glennon | October 20
"On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order (EO) restricting the entry of individuals seeking to enter the country on a nonimmigrant work visa. As part of this EO, the President proclaimed, “I have determined that the entry, through December 31, 2020, of certain aliens as immigrants and nonimmigrants would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” Our ongoing research provides evidence to the contrary and documents that the EO negatively affected the market valuation of the largest U.S. firms. According to estimates, this EO barred the entrance of nearly 200,000 foreign workers and their dependents."
October 2 - 8
Trump Reshaped the US Immigration System - But It's Been Ignored at the Debates
VOX | Nicole Narea | October 8
"Not a single question at the first two debates has addressed one of the policy areas in which President Donald Trump has been most effective at bringing his vision to fruition over his first term: immigration. Instead, the candidates have only mentioned immigration in passing. During Tuesday’s vice presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris briefly nodded to Trump’s statements about Mexicans coming over the border on the campaign trail in 2016, in which he called them “rapists” and “criminals.” She also briefly mentioned the travel ban he enacted right after taking office, blocking citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and creating chaos in airports across the US before courts forced him to amend the policy, which still remains in effect."
What It Takes to be a Foreign Student in the U.S. Now
Inquirer | Jath Shao | October 7
"When my grandfather left the Philippines for his master’s studies in 1949, it took over a month to travel from Manila to Michigan. Three weeks on a ship to Hawaii, then another week of sailing to San Francisco, before a long train ride to the Midwest. When my dad came to Chicago in 1977 for his master’s, it was free to apply for visas at the US Embassy on Dewey Boulevard by Ermita, which was the center of Manila then. By 1983, when he returned for his doctorate, it wasn’t free anymore."
Family Separation and the Trump Administration's Immigration Legacy
CNN | Priscilla Alvarez | October 7
"More than two years since migrant families were torn apart at the US-Mexico border, disturbing details of what occurred behind the scenes continue to spill into public view -- again putting into focus the policy that came to define the Trump administration's immigration legacy and cement its approach to immigrants. In 2018, the Trump administration announced the so-called "zero tolerance" policy, in which the Justice Department initiated criminal prosecutions of every adult illegally crossing the border. Doing so resulted in the separation of thousands of families, including those with infants, some only a few months old, because children can't be kept in federal jail with their parents. The public outcry over the policy and its consequences was swift. So too was the case late Tuesday, when The New York Times reported that top Justice Department officials were the "driving force" behind the policy."
September 18 - 24
Immigrants in US Custody Died After 'Inadequate' Medical Care, Congressional Investigation Finds
CNN | Geneva Sands | September 24
"Immigrants in US custody faced widespread failures in medical care, including some issues that resulted in death, according to a new congressional investigation released Thursday. At US Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities operated by for-profit contractors, detainees "often do not receive critical treatment or face delays," the inquiry found. Additionally, the review found that many of the for-profit facilities lack sufficient medical staff and failed to provide necessary care for chronic medical conditions."
How Biden Might Change Trump's Immigration Policies
Bloomberg | Adam M. Taylor and Michael Smallberg | September 24
"Long before the U.S. tightened its borders to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, President Donald Trump set about reshaping America’s immigration system with a nationalist and isolationist bent. Promises to crack down on illegal immigration and erect a wall along the Mexican border formed the centerpiece of his election campaign in 2016. His Democratic challenger in the Nov. 3 election, former Vice President Joe Biden, embraces immigration as fundamental to the national character in a country where 99% of citizens trace their roots to somewhere else."
Even When They Lost Their Jobs, Immigrants Sent Money Home
New York Times | Miriam Jordan | September 24
"Remittances historically have risen and fallen with the fortunes of the economies where immigrants have traveled to work. But after weathering the worst months of the lockdown, many immigrants are back on the job and sending their relatives even more money than before the downturn, according to newly compiled estimates...Jason Go, a Filipino cardiologist in Grand Forks, N.D., said that not only had he continued to transfer money monthly to his 71-year-old mother in the Philippines, he was now sending her even more. “Part of my motivation to come here was to help support my mom who put me through med school,” said Dr. Go, 46, who arrived in the United States 17 years ago."
August 28 - September 3
How Trump Made It That Much Harder to Become a US Citizen
VOX | Nicole Narea | September 3
"Immigrants have applied to become US citizens in increasing numbers since Donald Trump took office, which some policy analysts say is the effect of the president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. But the path hasn’t been easy. They’re facing ballooning processing times, higher fees, more intensive vetting, and even the possibility of later losing their citizenship at the hands of the Department of Justice’s newly created “denaturalization section,” which it announced in February 2020. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that processes applications for immigration benefits, has reopened its offices, but it’s also grappling with a budget crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic and struggling to keep up with the naturalization backlog."
Residents Waiting For Citizenship Are Worried They'll Miss Their Chance to Register to Vote This Year Amid a Backlog of Applications
Business Insider | Sarah Al-Arshani | September 2
"An undisclosed number of citizenship applications are currently backlogged, possibly preventing many residents who are in the final stages of their citizenship from registering to vote in the upcoming November elections, The Washington Post reported. In July, The Arizona Republic reported that more than 300,000 immigrants were at risk of not being able to vote in the presidential election due to delays caused by Trump administration policy changes and the coronavirus pandemic. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services did not say how many applications are backlogged at this point but told The Post there were hundreds of thousands of citizenship applications pending."
U.S. Seeks to Expand Biometric Data It Collects From Immigrants
The Wall Street Journal | Michelle Hackman | September 2
"The Department of Homeland Security said it would propose expanding the types of biometric information that immigrants may need to submit with their applications, possibly including iris scans, voice recordings and DNA samples. The proposal, which DHS said it would release within days, would also allow the government to require that biometric data be submitted with any sort of immigration application, including from U.S. citizens who are sponsoring relatives from abroad to immigrate to the U.S. Currently, immigrants applying for visas, green cards or other immigration benefits that require background checks must submit fingerprints and photographs along with their applications. The proposal would also create an expanded definition of “biometrics,” so that DHS can begin requiring new forms of identification via biological information and other physical characteristics as the technology becomes available."
August 21 - 27
A Nation of Immigrants No More
VOX | Nicole Narea | August 27
"On the campaign trail in August 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump departed from his typical stump speech to give an uncharacteristically detailed address in Phoenix that would define his immigration agenda for the next four years. His thesis was simple: The US immigration system was broken in a way that served “the needs of wealthy donors, political activists, and powerful politicians,” Trump told the crowd. “Let me tell you who it doesn’t serve. It doesn’t serve you, the American people.” He proceeded to describe, in laundry-list fashion, how he would reinvent the immigration system for what he said was the benefit of American citizens, painting an inaccurate portrait of immigrants as violent criminals and low-skilled workers as stealing American jobs and draining taxpayer resources."
Trump Takes Night Off From Anti-Immigrant Talk to Swear in U.S. Citizens
New York Times | Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Michael D. Shear | August 26
"President Trump moved within weeks of taking office to prohibit immigrants from Sudan from entering the United States, citing terrorism threats and including it in his travel ban on some predominantly Muslim countries — restrictions that remain partly in place today. But on Tuesday, when Mr. Trump wanted to portray himself as pro-immigrant, he invited Neimat Abdelazim Awadelseid, a Sudanese woman who had just qualified to become a U.S. citizen, and four others to a White House naturalization ceremony that his re-election campaign featured prominently during the Republican National Convention."
U.S. Immigration Agency Says It Won't Need to Furlough Employees, but Processing Could Slow Ahead of Election
Washington Post | Nick Miroff.| August 26
"The agency that runs the U.S. legal immigration system said Tuesday it will no longer need to furlough 70 percent of its workforce, after warning for months that 13,000 of its employees would be sent home if lawmakers didn’t provide a $1.2 billion emergency bailout. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is funded via the fees it collects from immigrants seeking green cards, citizenship and other benefits, but a drop in revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic had left the agency facing a budget shortfall. Several of the agency’s service centers have temporarily closed to the public or scaled down their operations during the outbreak."
Lazaro Law Group, Managing Attorney