Proposed New Pathways to Citizenship and Proposed Immigration Changes
The Biden administration has proposed HR 117, the US Citizenship Act, which addresses key components and introduce new provisions to existing immigration law. The proposed statute additionally signify a substantial turn from current border and immigration administrative practices, taking a more aimed approach to immigration reform than its previous administration. Particularly, the US Citizenship Act takes a broad focus to immigration reform and seeks to address a number of policy points within the immigration debates.
Although including provisions on a multitude of immigration policy areas, the topics of pathway to permanent residency, border security enhancements, and aid for foreign countries formulate a significant portion of the US Citizenship Act. The Act creates the “lawful prospective immigrant (LPI)” status. The group of individuals who would fall under this category would be:
- Immigrants who worked in “essential critical labor services” during COVID,
- Noncitizens who came to US as children, including DACA recipients,
- Nationals of countries designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED),
- LPRs that cannot get married in their jurisdictions, such as same-sex couples,
- Workers who performed agricultural or labor services for at least 400 work days or 23,000 hours.
The statute new pathways to permanent residency created for different demographic groups, all with their own respective criteria for such qualification. These groups include childhood arrivals, lawful prospective immigrants, immigrants with Temporary Protected Status, and Agricultural Workers.
Second, in regard to border security, the statute proposes increasing Customs and Border Patrol training funds as well as the development of a unified standard of care for those within the custody of Customs and Border Patrol.
Third, the US Citizenship Act announces $4 billion dollars in federal aid to the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. This aid package, however, will be conditioned upon “their ability to reduce endemic corruption, violence, and poverty that causes people to flee their home countries.”