What happened to President Biden’s immigration reform promise?


Photo Credit: Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star/TNS

President Biden proposed an immigration bill called the U.S Citizenship Act that will help create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants

Jennifer Aguilar, News Editor

 It has almost been a year since President Joseph Biden promised to make a pathway to citizenship for those who entered the United States illegally for a better life. The immigration reform needs to be done sooner rather than later.

   On Jan. 20, 2021, Biden sent the U.S. Citizenship Act bill to Congress in order to “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system,” according to the White House. If approved, this would modernize the immigration system and prioritize “keeping families together, growing our economy, addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, and ensuring that the United States remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution.” 

   Immigrants should be allowed to work and live in the United States legally and be able to see their loved ones outside of the country like everyone else. Throughout history, we have seen that immigrants have been racially discriminated against and have been given a certain stereotype. The stereotype being that they came to the United States to steal American jobs and that they are “delinquents,” however, immigrants and undocumented immigrants make up half of the economy and have far fewer crime rates compared to native-born U.S citizens. According to the American Immigration Council, “Immigrants make up significant shares of the United States’ workforce in a range of industries, accounting for over two-fifths of all farming, fishing, and forestry workers—as well as one-quarter of those working in computer and math sciences.” 

   Immigrants also contribute to the economy by paying taxes and creating jobs. According to the ACLU “Immigrants pay more than $90 billion in taxes every year,” and work just as hard or even more than the average American. Some Americans should not be offended by this statement because when you think about it, immigrants tend to work harder than those born in the United States as a way to prove to others or the government that they aren’t a burden. They try to take advantage of the opportunities provided here, such as jobs, because they tend to be scarce in their home countries. So upon arrival to the United States, they have the mentality to “work, work, work” in order to sustain themselves and their families, all by trying to achieve that “American Dream,” that they once wished for in their home countries. Immigrants also create jobs for others, “immigrants are highly entrepreneurial, launching new companies at twice the rate of native-born Americans and creating large numbers of jobs,according to FWD.us.

   A study published in the National Academy of  Sciences USA compared crime rates of immigrants and U.S. citizens, it was found that in the years of 2012-2018 “undocumented immigrants in Texas were less than half as likely to be arrested for violent crimes or drug offenses and less than a quarter as likely to be arrested for property crimes.” The co-author of this study and sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michael Light, also stated that “undocumented immigrants have lower felony arrest rates than both legal immigrants and, especially, native-born U.S. citizens.” If passed, The U.S, Citizenship Act 2021 would help approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants, by allowing individuals living in the United States illegally to apply for a temporary legal status known as Lawful Prospective Immigrant. This would give them the ability to apply for green cards if they have been physically present in the United States on or before Jan. 1, 2021. After five years, if criminal and national security background checks are passed, and taxes are fixed and complete, then one would be eligible to apply for lawful Permanent Residency status. 

   After three years, all green card holders would be eligible to apply for citizenship, if additional background checks are passed, knowledge of the English language, U.S. history, its government and knowledge of U.S. Civics are shown. The Lawful Prospective Immigrant status acts like a green card, allowing immigrants to live and work within the United States without having to worry about getting deported or having to worry if that is going to be the last day they are ever going to see their loved ones. With this status, one is able to travel outside of the United States but can’t remain outside of the United States for more than 180 days per year. This status would be renewable after a six year-period and would be the breaking point as well as a historic decision in immigration history that every undocumented immigrant dreams and hopes for.

   However, every case is different. If this proposed immigration reform is passed, it is recommended and important to see an immigration lawyer to ensure that this U.S. Citizenship Act will apply to you, a loved one, or a close friend. 

  Another proposed plan by Biden, The Build Back Better bill, created to rebuild the middle-class, includes a separate $100 billion investment that is “consistent with the Senate’s reconciliation rules,” according to the White House. This act would also help increase the number of legal resources and representation. The processes of the asylum system would improve as well as border issues by being more humane and efficient. 

      The fact that immigrants are living in the United States has no association with unemployment rates, according to FWD.us.,“research shows that immigrants generally complement, rather than compete with American workers because they have different skillsets and educational backgrounds.” The United States portrays a land of opportunity which is one of the main reasons that immigrants come to this country and if some Americans won’t work in the fields or in any other so-called “leftover job,” then immigrants don’t have another option and work in the unwanted jobs, which usually consist of lower wages. Some Americans need to stop complaining and making up excuses as to why they don’t have a job because the jobs are out there, one just has to seek. For years, some Americans have oppressed other races just to feel superior and better than anyone else. Immigrants are not stealing jobs, they are working just as hard or even more than the average American, to take advantage in order to live the “American Dream.”