Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38) and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today introduced the bicameral U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.
The immigration bill closely aligns with the plan President Biden announced on his first day in office and includes a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
“I am deeply proud to introduce the U.S. Citizenship Act in the House of Representative today, a vision that provides long-overdue permanent protections, and restores humanity and American values to our immigration system,” said Sánchez. “I am the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico, this is personal to me. With President Biden’s leadership and vision, Democratic majorities in both chambers, and the support of the majority of Americans: this is our moment to finally deliver big, bold, and inclusive immigration reform that our nation and its people deserve.”
The bill includes a fast-track process for immigrants brought to the country by their parents at a young age (otherwise known as “DREAMers”).
In addition to Dreamers, it would also allow immigrant farmworkers and those with Temporary Protected Status, who came to the U.S. as far back as the 1990s amid natural disasters and other unrest in their countries of origin, to quickly gain green cards. Undocumented individuals living in the U.S. would also be able to seek green cards after five years.
“I look forward to working with leaders in the House and Senate to address the wrongdoings of the past administration and restore justice, humanity, and order to our immigration system,” Biden said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “This is an important first step in pursuing immigration policies that unite families, grow and enhance our economy, and safeguard our security.”
Congressional Democrats signaled Thursday there would be little room for compromise on the bill’s big picture mandates.
“We know the path forward will demand negotiations with others. But we are not going to make concessions out of the gate. We’re not going to start with 2 million undocumented people instead of 11 million. We will never win an argument that we don’t have the courage to make,” Menendez said in a call with reporters to unveil the bill.
If the bill passes, it would be the first major immigration bill approved by Congress since 1996.