U.S. Reps Yvette D. Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn) and Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA) and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today introduced the bicameral U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, that if passed will give roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants across the nation a pathway to citizenship.
The comprehensive legislation would provide millions of hardworking, undocumented immigrants with a pathway to earned citizenship, including Dreamers, Temporary Protective Status (TPS) recipients, and essential workers who have made enormous sacrifices during the pandemic.
Additionally, the measure will prioritize family reunification and keeping families together while equipping the country to responsibly and effectively manage the border with smart and effective investments, and address root causes of migration that force people to leave Central America, and restore the U. S. commitment to human rights.
“Our immigration system is broken, and I will not relent until our immigration system reflects a modern and equitable approach to this issue. Reversing the policies of the last four years is not enough. We must reimagine the immigration system in a manner that is humane, just, and fair,” said Clarke.
“This bill is the Biden-Harris Administration’s vision to fix our immigration system once and for all. The time has come for the values of our nation to be reflected in our immigration policies. I am proud to co-lead this paramount legislation,” she added.
The measure also had 11 co-sponsors from around the country including U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens).
“Over the last four years, xenophobia and hatred coming from the highest office in our land led to cruel policies like tearing children apart from their parents at the border,” said Velázquez. “Well, today we are here to turn the page on that dark chapter. To finally make headwinds in the decades-long battle for humane immigration reform. The U.S. Citizenship Act will provide enhanced pathways to citizenship, keep families together, grow our economy, and support asylum seekers.”
While Democrats control both the House and the Senate, the legislation as it stands would take a minimum of 10 Republican Senate votes to move the bill to a vote in the upper chamber.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)., who has sponsored previous bipartisan immigration legislation, including the Dream Act, told NBC News the feasibility of a comprehensive deal is doubtful but a narrower version of the bill trading a path to legalization for DACA-protected undocumented immigrants for more border security is a possibility.
“The more people you legalize, the more things will be required to be given, so we’ll see. It starts a conversation,” Graham told the news outlet. “You just can’t legalize one group without addressing the underlying broken immigration system. You just incentivize more. So, a smaller deal may be possible.”