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  • Writer's pictureDr. Elena Kareneva

February 18, 2021- Biden Backed Immigration Overhaul Bill

After weeks of deliberations, congressional Democrats and the White House unveiled on Thursday an immigration overhaul bill that would reshape U.S. immigration laws and allow millions of immigrants living in the country without authorization to obtain legal status.

According to a 66-page summary of the legislation, the proposal would create a two-tier legalization program which would automatically make farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children eligible for green cards.(DACA). After three years, they could apply to become U.S. citizens.

All other eligible unauthorized immigrants would be able to request temporary deportation relief and work permits while being placed on an eight-year pathway towards U.S. citizenship. Petitioners would all need to undergo background and national security checks, as well as file taxes and pay application fees.

According to the draft text shared with congressional staff, the plan would not benefit new arrivals, as all prospective applicants would need to prove they were in the U.S. before January 1, 2021. The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be allowed to issue humanitarian waivers to this requirement for immigrants deported during the Trump administration as long as they prove they lived in the U.S. for at least three years before their deportation.

In addition to the legalization provisions, the bill would scrap Clinton-era sanctions that bar undocumented immigrants who leave the U.S. from reentering the country for three or 10 years, as well as curb the president's power to issue categorical bans on groups of immigrants. It would also substitute all references to "alien" in immigration laws with the term "noncitizen."

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