President Joe Biden has made it clear that he plans to undo as many of his predecessor’s immigration-related policies as possible.
According to recent reports, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has introduced legislation that, among other things, would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
What’s in the bill
For their part, Republican officials argue that the measure will lead to a renewed immigration crisis along the nation’s southern border.
As Fox News reported, Menendez has titled his bill the U.S. Citizenship act of 2021, and its language largely mirrors Biden’s views on the issue.
The Democratic senator is calling for an eight-year program that undocumented immigrants could complete that would ultimately result in de facto citizenship. An estimated 11 million to 22 million individuals could be eligible for such a pathway to citizenship.
Menendez’s proposal would also expand the green-card lottery system from 55,000 to 80,000, meaning an additional 25,000 individuals would receive a green card each year.
Children and spouses would be exempted from the allowance and farmworkers, individuals with Temporary Protected Status, and recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would all immediately receive a green card.
“Creating huge new incentives”
Furthermore, the bill would eliminate prohibitions of legal re-entry for individuals who have previously entered the nation unlawfully. It would also allocate $4 billion to eliminating the “root causes” of southern border migration.
In order to pass an evenly divided Senate, however, the bill would need the votes of 10 Republicans. So far, it appears unlikely that Democrats could attract that level of bipartisan support.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), for example, referred to the bill as a “massive proposal for blanket amnesty that would gut enforcement of American laws while creating huge new incentives for people to rush here illegally at the same time.”
Nevertheless, Menendez believes his proposal is likely to pass, declaring that Biden “is leaning into” the idea.
“We do have a majority in the House of Representatives, and they move certain elements of this bill in the last Congress,” he said. “Then we have a narrow majority in the Senate, but it gives us three legs of a stool to finally try to make this happen, and I’m looking forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve it.”