Good news for Indian IT professionals, US President Joe Biden to introduce new citizenship bill in Congress


Washington: President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats proposed a major immigration overhaul on Friday (February 19) that would offer an eight-year pathway to citizenship to the estimated 11 million people living in the US illegally. 

This is a move that would benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian IT professionals in America.

The legislation reflects the broad priorities for immigration changes that Biden laid out on his first day in office, including an increase in visas, more money to process asylum applications and new technology at the southern border.

“We have an economic and moral imperative to pass big, bold and inclusive immigration reform,” said New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, one of the lead sponsors of the bill, in unveiling it Friday.

Menendez said Democrats have failed in the past because they have too quickly given in “to fringe voices who have refused to accept the humanity and contributions of immigrants to our country and dismiss everything, no matter how significant it is in terms of the national security, as amnesty.”

Separately, enforcement guidelines released on Friday by the new administration would target immigration enforcement more directly at people in the country illegally who pose a threat. That, too, would be a reversal from the broader targeting policy of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Trump.

Menendez said he had been speaking to Republican colleagues in an effort toward “putting the pieces of a puzzle together” on a bill that would receive enough votes to pass. He acknowledged the final product is likely to change significantly. 

The bill Democrats introduced Friday would immediately provide green cards to farm workers, immigrants with temporary protected status and young people who arrived in the U.S. Illegally as children. For others living in the U.S. As of Jan. 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, then, after three years, they can pursue citizenship.

The plan also would raise the current per-country caps for family and employment-based immigrant visas. It would eliminate the penalty barring those immigrants who live in the U.S. Without authorization and who then leave the country from returning for three to 10 years.

The bill would expand transnational anti-drug task forces in Central America and enhance technology at the border. And it would set up refugee processing in Central America, to try to prevent some of the immigrant caravans that have overwhelmed border security in recent years.

The plan includes USD 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.

While Biden is pushing a comprehensive bill, he suggested earlier this week he may be open to a more piecemeal approach.

Menendez, too, seemed to suggest he was open to a piece-by-piece approach. “If we can get certain elements of this standing up and passed individually both in the House and the Senate, that’s great,” he said.


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