Democrats have unveiled legislation for President Joe Biden’s plan to create a path to US citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
On Thursday, top Democrats said the legislation, blocked for more than a decade by Republicans, is “long overdue,” arguing there is no justification for denying the undocumented immigrants a permanent home in the US.
They also said most of the immigrants the legislation will address have lived in the US for many years, with homes, businesses and US-born children and grandchildren.
The bill would also allow certain immigrants, who were previously deported, to apply to return to the US for humanitarian reasons.
In addition, some, including people brought to the country when they were children or so-called Dreamers as well as farmworkers, will be immediately proceeded to permanent residence or a “green card” meaning they can work legally.
Other immigrants are those who stayed in the country for years under temporary protected status (TPS) because of violent upheavals or natural disasters in their home countries.
The bill also proposes to stop branding undocumented immigrants as “aliens” in US law, and instead wants them to be called the less pejorative “non-citizens.”
The bill underlines the Biden administration’s reversal from former president Donald Trump’s strident anti-immigration policies.
Trump had promised in 2016 to curb immigration by building a wall on the US border with Mexico, and launched a crackdown on both legal and illegal entries into the country soon after he assumed office.
The new legislation has not received public support from Republicans, many of whom are still under Trump’s sway.