The Biden administration is making significant moves to reform the immigration system in the United States. On January 20, 2021, President Biden sent a bill called the U.S. Citizenship Act to Congress motioning to improve conditions for immigrants. The bill contains three major sections, each addressing pain points in the system and how the Biden Administration plans to relieve them.
Labor & Pathways to Citizenship
The first section of the bill breaks down how the administration will provide pathways to citizenship and labor protections for immigrants. If passed, the U.S. Citizenship Act would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary legal status. They would also be given the opportunity to apply for a green card after five years so long as they can demonstrate adequate knowledge of English and U.S. civics. To qualify, they must be able to prove that they were present in the U.S. before January 1, 2021. Additionally, the reform bill calls for immigrants to be referred to as “noncitizens” rather than “aliens.”
Labor protections proposed in the bill would protect workers from exploitation and improve conditions for families that benefit from work visas by ensuring that children of parents with work visas no longer age out of the system. The bill aims to clear employment-based backlogs and per-country caps. This means that the U.S. will not limit the number of visa applications for each country and immigrants in low-income areas will have better access to visas.
Also included in the bill’s reforms is the proposal that children of immigrant parents with H-1B visas not be aged out of the system. This would allow many young immigrants to attend a college or university in the U.S. The bill would also make it easier for those with a science, technology, engineering, or mathematical degree to stay in the United States after graduation to pursue a career.
Smart Border Control
In order to provide the opportunities discussed above, the system for border control must change.
The Biden administration is proposing the addition of technology to border security. These additions include high-throughput scanners to detect illegal substances on transports entering the United States. These scanners perform automated tests on large amounts of chemical and biological compounds. They are a much-needed step toward preventing the distribution of narcotics. Adding technology to existing border security measures ensures maximum efficiency without the high cost of increasing border personnel.
The proposed bill also includes improvements for criminal and administrative conduct. Under it, the Office of Professional Responsibility would perform the criminal and administrative conduct investigations and evaluate the use of force by border patrol officers. These changes will hopefully provide safer and more efficient means of immigration.
Causes of Migration
The reforms from the previous sections are critical to modernizing the U.S. immigration system. Still, the unique part of the policy is President Biden’s commitment to addressing the root causes of migration. This means the President will set aside funds to investigate the reasons immigrants flee their home countries.
He will increase assistance to key South American countries to reduce corruption, violence, and poverty. Designated Processing Centers will register and process displaced persons through lawful migration channels. Children separated from their families will be reunited under the re-instituted Central American Family Reunification Parole Program.
Additionally, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 expands case management programs, relief, and court procedures. Training programs for immigration judges will focus on fairness in granting relief to immigrants. Funding will go to schools to support unaccompanied children and their sponsors. Policies under this bill could increase opportunities for immigrants in the future.
The Future of Immigration
The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 has yet to be passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Until it passes, it is unclear which policies will be put to action. However, these reforms give hope to immigrants who have been separated from their families or have historically had difficulties gaining citizenship.
If you have questions regarding citizenship or status, contact the Sekou Clarke Law Group today.