Studies suggest that there are about 11 million undocumented immigrants living in California and around the country, and providing them with a path to citizenship has been a political challenge for decades. Just hours after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden sent a bill to Congress that would provide such a path. Administration officials say that the U.S. Citizenship Act will restore humanity to the immigration process, but passing the bill will require bipartisan support, and similar legislative efforts have failed in the past.
The U.S. Citizenship Act
If the U.S. Citizenship Act is passed and signed into law, undocumented immigrants living in the United States will be eligible to receive green cards after five years and could apply for naturalization after eight years. The law would also allow immigrants who have been granted temporary protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to apply for permanent residency immediately.
The proposed immigration law is likely to face its biggest challenge in the Senate. It will require the support of at least 10 Republican senators to pass, which is seen by many observers as unlikely. One Republican senator who made DACA reform a key part of his campaign has said that he feels comprehensive action is unlikely. Another has taken steps to block Biden’s nominee to head up the Department of Homeland Security because of the proposed amnesty plan. Attempts to reform the immigration system made by the Obama and Bush Administrations stalled in Congress, and that was when border security was a largely bipartisan issue.
Legal help with immigration issues
The political battle over immigration reform can be unsettling to those who want to live and work legally in the United States. Attorneys with immigration law experience may help those hoping for a fresh start in the U.S. by explaining the various work and family-based visa programs as well as the protections offered to asylum seekers. Attorneys may also advocate on behalf of immigrants facing deportation and assist employers who wish to hire skilled foreign workers.