What We’re Tracking: Immigration

This is the latest installment in our series highlighting the policy areas we’re watching leading up to inauguration–and how we’re expecting President-elect Biden’s administration to approach them. Read our previous entries on Health Care, Food & Ag, Tech, Climate and Foreign Policy.

Delivering on his campaign promise to prioritize immigration issues his first day in office, President-elect Biden is on track to send Congress a comprehensive immigration reform bill tomorrow following his inauguration

But with tight Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Biden and his administration will need to lead intense negotiations if they hope to bridge the divide on this fraught issue. 

According to early reporting, the proposal includes:

  • An eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants lacking legal status in the U.S.
  • An expansion of the refugee program, and
  • Green cards for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, agricultural workers, and those in the U.S. under temporary protective status (TPS). 

The bill also proposes investing in Central American countries to address factors contributing to immigration.

As a starting point for a negotiation, the bill does not include enhanced border security or an expansion of the border wall, instead relying on deploying technology. Border security is traditionally considered a necessary element for support from Republicans and some Democrats in tough districts. 

It’s difficult to see a path forward in the Senate, where Republicans are already lining up against Biden’s proposal, criticizing him for putting “amnesty” ahead of addressing the pandemic or getting American back to work

Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, is beginning his confirmation process today and will be expected to provide more information on this immigration proposal.