Biden introduced a bill giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.
By Ada Wang
In mid-February, President Joe Biden and his Capitol Hill allies introduced his immigration plan to Congress. His plan, if it were to be passed, would give the opportunity to 11 million undocumented immigrants to be able to apply for a green card after a five year period of residency. They would then receive a green card officially after a total of 8 years of residency, provided they do not get into legal trouble.
Biden and his administration also issued a temporary policy that would require immigration agents to determine deportation on a case-to-case basis. This means that the immigration customs agents would have to seek approval and go through all the proper channels before deporting people who are not national security threats, people who have not recently crossed the border illegally, and people who do not have a felony conviction, which is the most severe classification of crime, including crimes like murder and kidnapping.
Another part of Biden’s policy is calling for the removal of the word ‘alien’ from federal law and using ‘non citizen’ in place of it. “I think changing [the use of ‘alien’] is a good idea. ‘Alien’ just perpetuates negative attention towards immigrants who just want to have a better life. Word choice is very important, and while it may not make a huge change I think it’s just the obvious thing to do. They’re not aliens, they’re people,” Senior Ana Coman said in response to the addition to the policy.
There are many arguments for and against what President Biden proposes, but it is ultimately up to Congress whether or not it will pass. While the House of Representatives has a Democratic majority, the Senate is currently split equally between Democrats and Republicans, which means that a filibuster in the Senate is a likely possibility. A filibuster is when senators attempt to delay the voting process of a bill or policy, which could happen because of the very different views on such topics as immigration. In order to avoid a filibuster in the Senate, Democrats would need an additional 10 votes from the Republican party in favor of Biden’s immigration policy.
When Hammond students were asked about their thoughts on the likelihood of this bill passing through Congress, there was a general consensus that the passing of this bill may be difficult. “I think it will be very difficult for the bill to pass considering how some people tend to feel about immigration and granting citizenship,” says senior Dilei Yarmah. Ana Coman shares similar views but is more hopeful about the potential outcome and said, “I [would] like to think it’s very likely but you never know if Republicans will all go against it or not. I think it’s important to get the word out and actually educate people about it. I’d say it’s really a 50/50 chance.” And if the process of Biden’s COVID relief bill is any indication of how his immigration plan may be received– with much resistance– then it does not look good for the future of the bill.
This bill should give many undocumented immigrants hope after the Trump adminstration’s policies and their previous crackdown on immigration. President Biden’s new restrictions on ICE and the pending bill could also give locals a peace of mind. Since the increase in presence of ICE in the melting pot centers of Howard County in the summer of 2019, people have been uneasy. This proposed bill is Biden’s attempt to show that he is different from the previous administration, and that he wants changes to be made.