President Joe Biden said he will unveil a new immigration bill on day one of his presidency, Wednesday January 20th. This bill is in hope to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status.
As a candidate, Biden called Trump’s actions on immigration an “unrelenting assault” on American values and said he would “undo the damage” while continuing to maintain border enforcement.
Megan Beaman Jacinto is an immigrants rights attorney in the Coachella Valley. “The plan that’s being presented now is much broader than any plan in the last 4 years or even before that point,” said Beaman.
Claudio Koreno is a staff attorney for TODEC Legal Center. “For 5 years they will be in that status which will probably allow them to work. Then they will be able to obtain a green card, the residency. Then 3 years later they will be able to apply for citizenship,” explained Koreno.
Agriculture workers will be able to obtain a green card immediately. “In the Coachella Valley in particular we have a big immigrant community and we have for example we have workers, agriculture workers, that don’t have status, many of them,” said Koreno.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) holders, children brought to the United States without documents and TPS holders, people who have migrated from countries due to violence or natural disasters, are protected under this new bill as well. These groups would be able to get a green card immediately as well if they are working, are in school, or meet other necessary requirements.
This was an emotional moment for those working in immigration as well as immigrant families. “Contrary to what we were suffering the last 4 years, racism and attacks against immigrants, this is a new page, a new era, with light and hope for everybody,” said Koreno. “A lot of families today are breathing a big sigh of relief and that’s true for my family as well,” added Beaman.
A few things the bill will include:
- Those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 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 pursue citizenship.
- Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements.
- Address some of the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States, and provide grants for workforce development and English language learning.