Pres. Biden Releases more Details on Immigration Reform for Undocumented, “The U.S. Citizenship Act”

Pres. Biden Releases more Details on Immigration Reform for Undocumented, “The U.S. Citizenship Act”

Following up on our blog post yesterday, the new Biden Administration has issued additional details on its immigration reform plans. The proposed legislation to be introduced in Congress on Inauguration Day, The U.S. Citizenship Act, features important protections for undocumented immigrants. We’re awaiting additional details of these benefits and how non-citizens with crimes, aggravated felonies, or prior serious immigration violations like fraud, unlawful presence, and illegal re-entry after deportation. Here’s what we’ve been told:

The U.S. Citizenship Act is passed would create an eight-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The proposal would give priority to farm workers, temporary protected status (TPS) holders, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries, also known as Dreamers, who came to the U.S. as children.

These immigrants must have been present in the U.S. no later than January 1, 2021. The 01/01/2021 requirement can be waived by DHS for family unity or other humanitarian purposes if the non-citizen had been deported on or after January 20, 2017, and was physically present in the U.S. for at least 3 years prior to removal.

According to news reports, the bill aims to recapture unused visas to eliminate family and employment based visa backlogs, reduce other wait times, and in hopes of relieving backlogs from immigrants from Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines, increase per-country visa caps. The U.S. Citizenship Act would offer work permits to dependents of H-1B work visa holders and allow immigrants with approved sponsorship petitions to join family in the U.S. while they wait for green cards to become available.

The Biden Plan also provides critical assistance to asylum applicants and immigrant crime victims, by getting rid of the one-year asylum filing deadline and increasing the limits on U visas for victims of crime to 30,000 from 10,000 per year.

In immigration courts, the legislation would eliminate categorical ineligibility for certain forms of relief from deportation, and expand discretion for judges to review cases and grant relief.

These reports also indicate that Pres. Biden will also be announcing a series of executive immigration actions to expand DACA, end Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban, extend temporary deportation protections for Liberians and stop wall construction. He will also reintroduce DHS and ICE’s prosecutorial discretion by undoing Trump’s executive order that did away with priorities for immigration enforcement and made all immigrants potential targets for removal.

And on a symbolic though not unimportant level The U.S. Citizenship Act would replace the word “alien” with “noncitizen” in immigration laws, a recognition (finally) that we are all as Americans also immigrants.

Our immigration defense firm will continue to monitor these developments and provide information as it becomes available.


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