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Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde February 23, 2021

Democrats advance Joe Biden’s campaign promise of pathway to citizenship

Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill to advance President Joe Biden's campaign promise to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally.

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would offer an expedited three-year path to citizenship to some farmworkers, so-called Dreamers (immigrants who arrived here illegally when they were children) and people who currently benefit from a Temporary Protected Status designation.

Including spouses and minor children of the eligible immigrants, nearly 3.3 million people would be on track for the expedited path to citizenship, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

Other immigrants without legal authorization to be in the country would be on a longer, eight-year path to citizenship, provided they pass background checks and pay taxes.

The congressional effort is led by Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif. In a Feb. 18 statement, Biden applauded the proposal.

"I look forward to working with leaders in the House and Senate to address the wrongdoings of the past administration and restore justice, humanity and order to our immigration system," Biden said. "This is an important first step in pursuing immigration policies that unite families, grow and enhance our economy, and safeguard our security."

We did not find statements from Republicans in Congress publicly supporting the proposal.

Republican lawmakers have previously expressed support for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who were brought to the country as children. But Republicans have been more reluctant to support a bill that benefits a broader group of immigrants. Rep. John Katko, the top Republican in the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the new bill fell short on border security and called it "more of a symbolic marker than a viable product for congressional debate."

Beyond providing a pathway to citizenship, the bill also seeks to reduce visa backlogs, eliminate per-country admission caps, get rid of the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims, and expand access to some visas, including the U visa available to victims of certain crimes who assist law enforcement investigations.

The bill also aims to advance another Biden campaign promise to help Central American nations address the factors driving migrants out of their countries. The proposal calls for funding to improve infrastructure at ports of entry and to secure the border through the use of technology.

Whether the bill gains enough support to become a law is still to be determined. For now, given the introduction of the proposal in Congress, we rate this promise In the Works.

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