President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil sweeping immigration legislation on the first day of his administration. The plan could provide an eight-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status.
The law puts Biden on track to fulfill a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of President Donald Trump’s restrictive policies and mass deportations. The law should provide one of the fastest paths to citizenship for those living without any legal status in recent years. But it does not include the traditional compromise of enhanced border security advocated by many Republicans, raising doubts that Congress will support it.
As a candidate, Biden called Trump’s actions on immigration an “ongoing attack” on American values and said he would “undo the damage” by continuing to enforce border security.
Under the legislation, people living in the U.S. from Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status will have a five-year path to temporary legal status or a green card if they pass background checks, pay taxes and meet other basic requirements. Then they will have a three-year path to naturalization if they decide to get citizenship.
For some immigrants, the process will be quicker. So-called dreamers, young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people with temporary protected status, can get a green card right away if they work, go to school, or meet other requirements.