Biden's Immigration Bill Includes An Eight-Year Path To Citizenship
Democratic lawmakers formally introduced President Biden's sweeping immigration bill today.
The U.S. Immigration Act of 2021 would provide an eight-year path to U.S. citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. without legal status.
If the bill passes, the following groups would become immediately eligible for green cards and could apply for citizenship after three years:
- People with Temporary Protected Status
- Those who arrived in the U.S. as children and have protection under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA
Others would need to wait five years under a provisional status to apply for a green card, then three more years to become eligible for citizenship.
The last time comprehensive immigration reform was introduced in Congress was 2013 -- it passed in the Senate, but the Republican majority refused to take it up in the House.
Now, Democrats have the House majority, but would need at least 10 Republican supporters in the Senate for the legislation to pass.
Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Whittier) addressed that in a virtual press conference today:
"We all know that when you introduce a bill, oftentimes the end result is not exactly the starting result. So there will be opportunities for us to talk with our Republican colleagues and educate them about what is in the bill, address concerns and modify, but we are confident that we can get this done."
In Los Angeles the news was met with hopeful optimism by people like Jungwoo Kim, a DACA recipient who was born in South Korea. DACA recipients have endured a rollercoaster of emotions in recent years, ever since the Trump administration tried to end the Obama-era program in 2017.
"Honestly I’m not sure," Kim said. "This is the third or fourth try to pass the bill."
If a path to citizenship does happen "You still have to file taxes, you still have to find a job, you still have to pay for your insurance,” Kim said. “What the citizenship really gives is peace of mind…they can just focus on what they can do to contribute to their community.”
Los Angeles also has a large community of immigrants with Temporary Protected Status, in particular immigrants from El Salvador and Honduras. TPS, as it is known, shields certain immigrants who fled crises like natural disaster or war in their native countries from deportation and allows them to work here legally. Many TPS holders have lived in the U.S. for decades.
"We know it’s going to be an uphill battle in Congress,” said Salvador Sanabria, who directs El Rescate, a community organization that serves Central Americans. “Los Angeles is the capital of central America... So is a big deal, and it will really transform the quality of life for Central American families.”
This story has been updated.
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