SAN DIEGO – President-elect Joe Biden’s decision to immediately ask Congress to offer legal status to an estimated 11 million people nationwide has surprised advocates given that the issue has long divided Democrats and Republicans, even within their own parties. .
Biden will announce legislation on his first day in office to provide a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants to the United States illegally, according to four people briefed on his plans.
The president-elect campaigned on the path to citizenship for about 11 million people in the United States illegally, but it was unclear how fast he would act while battling the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and others. priorities. For advocates, memories were fresh of presidential candidate Barack Obama promising an immigration bill in his first year in office, in 2009, but not addressing the issue until his second term.
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Biden’s plan is the opposite of that of Donald Trump, whose success in the 2016 presidential campaign hinged in part on reducing or stopping illegal immigration.
“This really represents a historic change from Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda which recognizes that all undocumented immigrants currently in the United States should be placed on the path to citizenship,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the national immigration law. Center, who was informed of the bill.
If successful, the legislation would be the biggest step forward in granting illegal status to people in the country since President Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to nearly 3 million people in 1986. Legislative efforts to revise immigration policy failed in 2007 and 2013.
Ron Klain, Biden’s new chief of staff, said on Saturday that Biden would send Congress an immigration bill “on his first day in office.” He did not elaborate and Biden’s office declined to comment on details.
Defenders have been briefed in recent days on the outline of the bill by Esther Olivarria, deputy director of immigration at the White House’s Home Policy Council.
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Domingo Garcia, former president of the League of Latin American Citizens, said Biden told lawyers on Thursday that Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate could delay consideration of the bill and that they should not rely on its adoption within 100 days.
“I was pleasantly surprised that they were going to act quickly because we got the same promises from Obama, who was elected in 2008, and he totally failed,” Garcia said.
Ali Noorani, president of the National Forum on Immigration and among those briefed Thursday evening, said immigrants would be placed on an eight-year path to citizenship. There would be a faster lane for those participating in the Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals, which protects people from deportation who arrived in the country as young children, and to temporary protection status , which gives temporary status to hundreds of thousands of conflict-torn people. country, a lot of El Salvador.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris made similar remarks in an interview with Univision that aired Tuesday, saying DACA and TPS recipients would “automatically receive green cards” while others would be on an eight-year path to citizenship.
More favorable attitudes towards immigration – especially among Democrats – may work in Biden’s favor this time around. A Gallup survey last year found that 34% of those polled favored more immigration, up from 21% in 2016 and more than ever since she started asking the question in 1965. The survey found revealed that 77% felt immigration was good for the country as a whole, up slightly from 72% in 2016.
Noorani said the separation of more than 5,000 children from parents at the border, which peaked in 2018, pushed voters away from Trump’s policies, especially conservatives and evangelicals. He believes the ever-changing outlook for DACA recipients also hurt Trump among those who thought they were using them as “political pawns.”
“What was etched in their minds was family separation. They took it away from the Republican Party in 2018 and they took it away from Trump in 2020,” Noorani said. “To put a real end to this, they want to end the cruelty of the Trump administration.”
It is impossible to know exactly how many people are illegally in the country. The Pew Research Center estimates there were 10.5 million in 2017, up from a historic high of 12.2 million in 2007.
The Department of Homeland Security estimates that there were 12 million people in the country illegally in 2015, nearly 80 percent of them for more than 10 years. More than half were Mexican.
Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.