"Over the last four years we all witnessed horrific immigration policies resulting in thousands of children being removed from their parents, families held in cages, and refugees from as far away as Cameroon and countries in Western Africa forced to languish in Mexico because the USA consistently violated worldwide asylum laws".
"The memo is a disappointing step backward from the Biden administration's earlier commitments to fully break from the harmful deportation policies of both the Trump and Obama presidencies", said ACLU attorney Naureen Shah. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) on Thursday will introduce a sweeping immigration bill drawn up by President Joe Biden. After another three years, they will be able to apply to become citizens.
Separately, enforcement guidelines released Thursday by the new administration would target immigration enforcement more directly at people in the country illegally who pose a threat.
For others living in the U.S.as of January 1, 2021, the plan establishes a five-year path to temporary legal status, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements.
Since coming to power, Biden has announced a push to reform immigration and roll back his predecessor's hardline policies, including with the creation of a special task force to reunite families separated by Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy towards undocumented immigrants.
Why Biden's immigration plan may be risky for Democrats The plan would raise the current per-country caps for family and employment-based immigrant visas. Such a migrant would be a priority for arrest, as well as anyone who was not present in the country before that date - a move that makes illegal immigrants who traveled to the US or overstayed a visa after the 2020 presidential election easy to arrest and potentially deport.
The plan includes $4 billion spread over four years to try to boost economic development and tackle corruption in Latin American countries, to lessen pressure for migration to the U.S.
Then-acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske said the move would allow the department to take stock of its immigration and border policies as the department leadership transitioned between Republican and Democratic administrations.
Menendez was part of the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators who negotiated a 2013 bill that ultimately collapsed. Prior to that, a bill backed by President George W. Bush failed in Congress as well, after multiple attempts at compromise.
Asked whether the White House would be open to considering potential Republican-led amendments to the bill that would increase any type of immigration enforcement, an administration official didn't rule it out.
Biden indicated at a CNN town hall Tuesday night that he is open to alternate routes to citizenship - such as stand-alone bills that would legalize smaller groups of immigrants such as farmworkers - but he called the bill "a reasonable path to citizenship".