As one of his first acts in office, President-elect Joe Biden will ask Congress to offer legal status to an estimated 11 million foreigners in the country illegally.
Biden will announce legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions on his first day, according to The Associated Press.
The president-elect campaigned on the issue — an issue on which he is diametrically opposed to President Trump, who sought to shut down the southern border with Mexico and banned foreigners from several countries from coming into the U.S.
“This really does represent a historic shift from Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda that recognizes that all of the undocumented immigrants that are currently in the United States should be placed on a path to citizenship,” Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, who was briefed on the bill, told the AP.
“The bill also would provide a shorter pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of people with temporary protected status and beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals who were brought to the U.S. as children, and probably also for certain front-line essential workers, vast numbers of whom are immigrants,” Yahoo News reported.
Under Biden’s plan, illegal aliens would become eligible for legal permanent residence after five years and for U.S. citizenship after another three years, a faster path to citizenship than in other bills.
Democrats now control the House and on Jan. 19, when the Senate reconvenes, the two parties will each have 50 senators. After noon on Jan. 20, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be the tiebreaking vote, giving Democrats control of that chamber, too.
If Congress passes Biden’s proposal, it would be the first time illegal aliens will be granted status since President Ronald Reagan bestowed amnesty on nearly 3 million people in 1986. But two other efforts to overhaul immigration policy failed in 2007 and 2013.
Domingo Garcia, former president of the League of Latin American Citizens, told the AP that Biden told advocates on a call Thursday about his plan. “I was pleasantly surprised that they were going to take quick action because we got the same promises from Obama, who got elected in ’08, and he totally failed,” Garcia said.
The release of Biden’s plan comes as a caravan of Honduran migrants is approaching the U.S. border. “The group of migrants was originally anywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 strong, although their numbers have dwindled as the march towards the United States has continued,” The Daily Mail reported.
“‘We recognize the importance of the incoming Government of the United States having shown a strong commitment to migrants and asylum seekers, which presents an opportunity for the governments of Mexico and Central America to develop policies and a migration management that respect and promote the human rights of the population in mobility,’ said a statement from Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a migrants right group. We will advocate that the Biden government honors its commitments.'”