Democrats Introduce Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Written by SK Ashby

Good news -- Democrats in Congress are introducing what could be one of the most important policy initiatives of Joe Biden's entire term in office.

Democrats are introducing a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a pathway to citizenship with support from the White House.

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would create an eight-year path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the country. First, it would provide them with a new type of temporary status for five years and then allow them to obtain citizenship after another three years.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, people who qualify for Temporary Protected Status from countries suffering from war and natural disasters, and farm workers who can prove they have a work history essentially get bumped to the front of the "green card" line provided they pass background checks and meet other requirements.

Now that Democrats in Congress are introducing legislation that doesn't necessarily involve the federal budget, they're going to face additional obstacles they can't circumvent by using the reconciliation process. They're going to have to decide if eliminating the legislative filibuster is worth it.

Personally, I think it is. Not everything would be worth ending the filibuster, but this is. If comprehensive immigration reform isn't passed now, it may never be.

The Trump years made it painfully clear that federal law must be permanently changed so the next Republican president cannot abuse the system to intentionally hurt people. Republicans could pass their own laws the next time they take control of the Senate without the filibuster, of course, but it will be far more politically difficult for them to do that than it would be for the next president to sign executive orders and rebuild Trump's concentration camps.

Republicans are going to say this is a Democratic attempt to secure a new constituency of dedicated voters, but I don't think that will necessarily be the case; I don't believe everyone helped by this legislation will automatically become Democrats. Even Trump maintained a peculiarly high share of the Latino vote. But in any case, what this legislation could mean for the electoral prospects of either party shouldn't be taken into account. Comprehensive reform should be passed in interests of ending unnecessary human suffering. That's it.