Will Comprehensive Immigration Reform Be Achieved Imminently?

In January this year, President Biden sent a bill to Congress with a view to modernizing the immigration system in the U.S. The legislation gives value to the importance of families remaining together, while setting ground rules for managing borders via smart investments, boosting the economy, and addressing the main reasons for migration from Central America. The bill aims to ensure that the U.S. remains a safe haven for those fleeing from persecution, while creating an earned path to citizenship for immigrants – including DREAM immigrants and essential workers who have played a vital role in supporting local and national communities.

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Improving Labor Protection

As stated by immigration law specialists Farmer Law, immigrant workers can be vulnerable to labor violations owing to their fear of deportation. Biden’s bill sees the DHS and the Department of Labor creating a commission which will receive recommendations from labor, employer, and civil rights groups with a view to improving employment verification. Workers who bear the brunt of violations can report the fact to dedicated employee agencies in exchange for U visa relief. This would protect them against deportation and impose stricter penalties for employers who do not obey the law.

Improving The U.S. Economy

The bill focuses as much on embracing diversity and improving refugee integration and citizenship as it does on facilitating economic growth in the U.S. It eliminates employment-based visa backlogs, makes waiting times shorter, and gets rid of per-country visa caps. It also makes it easier for U.S. college graduates with advanced STEM degrees to remain in the U.S., and makes green card access easier for employees earning lower wages. It additionally covers dependents in many cases – including dependents of H-1B visa holders, stopping children from being deemed ‘to old’ to be covered by the system. The DHS would also have greater authority in areas such as green card discretion, as they would be able to make decisions based on macroeconomic considerations.

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Providing A Solution For Undocumented Individuals

The bill seeks to give undocumented people a path toward citizenship. Essentially, after being granted temporary legal status, they can apply for a green card after a five-year period, provided they do not have a criminal record. Just a few groups that could obtain citizenship through this avenue are TPS holders, immigrant farm workers, and Dreamers. Help may also be at hand for those who were deported on or post January 20, 2017. If these people were present for at least three years prior to removal, the Secretary of the DHS could waive the requirement for having been physically present in the U.S on or prior to January 1st of 2021.

What Are The Chances Of The Bill Being Passed?

New Bureau Business and Law Editor, P Ciciora, recently spoke with Lauren Aronson (Director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Law) with a view to ascertaining the chances the Bill has of being passed. Aronson reports that its prospects are weak, owing to the current political climate. She notes that some Republicans are claiming that the Bill offers amnesty for immigrants who are already in the U.S., despite the fact that this ‘amnesty’ is very similar to that promoted by Ronald Reagan’s Republican party – as passed in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The current global crisis, she added, like all crises, would tend to make the public more nationalistic and xenophobic. These are tough times, therefore, for such comprehensive legislation.

Biden’s immigration bill seeks to make comprehensive reform to immigration law. Main changes include the facilitation of the legal route to citizenship, with bureaucracy and waiting times being reduced so as to facilitate economic success and family unity. Current climes mean that the odds are stacked up against the proposed changes, many of which could be presented once again in more prosperous times.

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