Biden’s immigration plan takes shape

Ava Wittman, News Editor

New immigration plan aims to reduce detention times, criticized for increasing illegal immigration.

President Joe Biden has unveiled a new immigration policy and bill that aims to allow for faster, more “humane” migration to occur into the United States. The bill has received criticism from both the Republican and Democratic parties displayed by the recent decision to table the bill, as it is believed the House does not have the votes to pass it. 

The bill features an “earned roadmap towards citizenship,” meaning that undocumented individuals living within the U.S. would be permitted to apply for temporary citizenship that has the potential to become a green card after five years.

Along with these alterations comes reform to border security, allowing for further training of individuals working within the program, with hopes of increasing the safety and professionalism of border patrol agents.

The bill also appears to be aimed at improving quality of life for immigrants within the U.S. with increased protections regarding workers and worker exploitation as well as replacing the commonly used word “alien” in reference to immigrants who have not yet obtained citizenship to “noncitizen.” 

Biden’s goal with his new immigration policies has been connected with a desire to increase the speed of the immigration process by reducing the amount of time asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors spend in detention. The bill also states an intention to limit the separation of families trying to immigrate. 

“Keep families together,” the White House briefing room said in a statement about the U.S. Citizenship Act. 

The bill has been criticized for encouraging a greater number of people to attempt to immigrate illegally to the U.S., and the election of Joe Biden has been blamed by critics for the doubling of attempted illegal immigrants last January. Another complaint against the bill stems from the fear that there is no exact count of undocumented citizens within the U.S. The bill only permits undocumented residents to apply for a temporary visa; it does not guarantee one. 

Because of the lack of support for the bill, its discussion has been delayed this month and it is suspected to receive attention in April. 

The bill is a step away from previous administrations’ immigration legislation, especially in the anticpated removal of long-term detention and acceleration of processing, which some believe could contribute to an influx in migration and attempts in illegal immigration. This move has also been criticized as a mere matter of appearances, as past administrations were not permitted to detain families for a period of longer than 20 days, although this was not the case by the end of the Trump administration. 

Currently, detention centers are beginning to near capacity. This issue has been aggravated by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) new social distancing guidelines. Nevertheless, the situation adds to the sense of urgency politicians feel about immigration.