In January 2021, President Biden introduced The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, a proposed immigration bill aimed at reforming the immigration system while addressing border security concerns. The bill outlined pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including DREAMers and farm workers, alongside measures to enhance border security. It also aimed to address backlogs in family-based and employment-based immigration, improve refugee and asylum processing, and invest in Central American countries to tackle migration’s root causes.
Congressional Challenges and Altered Approaches:
1. Congressional Hurdles: The bill faced challenges in Congress, particularly due to the narrow Senate majority. It required bipartisan support to overcome filibusters and proceed to a final vote.
2. Policy Disagreements: Specific policy aspects, such as pathways to citizenship, border security, and visa reforms, led to disagreements. Concerns emerged over the potential economic and security impacts of the proposed reforms.
3. Divergent Opinions: Several senators criticized the bill as “mass amnesty” and voiced concerns about its potential consequences, signaling its complexity and sensitivity.
Adapted Approaches and Incremental Progress:
1. Smaller Bills: Lawmakers explored passing smaller bills focused on specific immigration aspects, often without including comprehensive citizenship provisions.
2. Budget Reconciliation: Some progress was made through budget reconciliation, attaching immigration reforms to budgetary initiatives.
Innovative Approaches by the Biden Administration:
1. Humanitarian Parole: The administration employed humanitarian parole to address specific immigration cases.
2. Family Sponsorships: Increased reliance on family sponsorships eased immigrants’ entry while reducing dependency on government assistance.
3. Border Rules: Stricter rules at northern and southern borders and requiring safe third-country asylum clearance were introduced.
4. Pre-Clearance Offices: The concept of U.S. immigration pre-clearance offices abroad was introduced.
5. Technology: Technological solutions were applied to streamline asylum claim processing.
6. Societal Support: The administration collaborated with countries to enhance their societies in Latin America.
Though the comprehensive U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 faced significant challenges in Congress, innovative approaches by the Biden administration and evolving strategies offer hope for addressing immigration reform in the future. It’s crucial to strike a balance between national security, economic interests, and humanitarian concerns to create a comprehensive and sustainable immigration framework.