The new legislation, currently being drafted by congressional democrats and immigrant rights advocates, will include a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Both Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have said their legislative proposal would include a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the US without legal status.
The bill would also provide a shorter pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of people with temporary protected status and beneficiaries of deferred action for childhood arrivals who were brought to the US as children, and probably also for certain front-line essential workers, vast numbers of whom are immigrants.
Biden’s plan is the polar opposite of Donald Trump, whose successful 2016 presidential campaign rested in part on curbing or stopping illegal immigration.
President Donald Trump ignited international condemnation early in his administration when it separated more than 5,000 children from their parents starting in 2017 and ramping up in 2018 as part of a zero-tolerance policy on unauthorized attempts to enter the United States.
The policy was eventually stopped as a result of a national outcry, but not before many adults were deported to Central America, leaving behind hundreds of children, from toddlers to teens. Many are still separated from their parents.
Biden’s proposal lays out what would be the most sweeping and comprehensive immigration package since President Reagan’s immigration reform and control Act of 1986, which granted legal status to 3 million people who were in the country without documentation.
Under Biden’s plan, immigrants would become eligible for legal permanent residence after five years and for US citizenship after an additional three years, a faster path to citizenship than in previous immigration bills.