President-elect Joe Biden will roll out a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws the day he is inaugurated, including an eight-year pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status and an expansion of refugee admissions, along with an enforcement plan that deploys technology to patrol the border.
To qualify, immigrants must have been in the United States as of Jan. 1, a move meant to blunt any rush to the border.
Biden’s bill will have three overarching pillars, the transition officials said: provisions to address the causes of migration, border management and a path to citizenship.
The administration also wants to set up a reunification program for Central American relatives of U.S. citizens that would allow those who have been already approved for U.S. residency to be admitted into the country, rather than waiting at home for an opening. The program would be similar to ones that existed for Cubans and Haitians but also were ended by the Trump administration.
The Biden proposal also would put in place a refugee admissions program at multiple processing centers abroad that would better help identify and screen those who would qualify to be admitted as refugees into the United States.
Biden wants to move the refugee and asylum systems “back to a more humane and orderly process,” the official said. But “it’s also been made clear that that isn’t a switch you flip overnight from the 19th to the 20th, especially when you’re working with agencies and processes that have been so gutted by the previous administration.”