As part of the sweeping changes to America by President-elect Joe Biden to reverse nearly all of President Donald Trump’s accomplishments, Biden has promised to ask Congress to provide a path to citizenship to an estimated eleven million illegal immigrants on his first day in office. In stark contrast to President Trump’s more restrictive approach to border security and combatting illegal immigration, one of Biden’s central campaign promises revolved around widening the border and streamlining citizenship.
“This really does represent a historic shift from Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda that recognizes that all of the undocumented immigrants that are currently in the United States should be placed on a path to citizenship,” Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, told the AP.
Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, announced the immigration bill will be sent to Congress “on (Biden’s) first day in office.” Under his plan, illegal immigrants would be eligible for legal permanent residence after five years with U.S. citizenship granted at eight years, a much shorter path to citizenship than any other immigration bill.
On top of that, the bill would provide a much speedier process for citizenship for those in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protects young children from deportation if brought to the United States at a young age, and in Temporary Protected Status, which grants temporary legal residence to people from war-torn countries or places affected by natural disasters.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris assured that anyone in DACA and TPS will “automatically get green cards” in an interview with Univision.
If passed, the bill would mark the largest move towards granting status to illegal immigrants already in the nation since Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to three million illegal immigrants in 1986.
The Homeland Security Department estimates there were 12 million people in the country illegally in 2015, nearly 80% of them for more than 10 years, though accurate illegal immigration numbers are next to impossible to caluclate.
With Biden’s upcoming administration and, with it, relaxed border policies combined with easy routes to citizenship, illegal immigration began its inevitable spike, with detentions in October increasing by 30% from September and the number of foreign nationals attempting to unlawfully enter the U.S. last month experiencing a 64% increase compared to November of last year. Currently, a Honduran caravan of between 2,000 and 4,000 people is approaching the border, hoping to take advantage of Biden’s soft border policy.
Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan warned that “cartels and human smugglers are fueling perceptions that our borders will once again be wide open, and that we will be reinstating the loopholes that have been closed.”
“If your policy consists of stopping deportation for almost four months, discontinuing or not supporting Title 42, revoking the Migrant Protection Protocols,” Morgan continued, “the message you’re sending is clear and simple: We have open borders.”