The plan, which also would aim to address the root cause of migration from countries in Central America and improve the use of technology at the border, will be sent to Congress on Wednesday, shortly after Biden is inaugurated, the source said.
Biden promised during the campaign that he would make immigration reform a priority as president, a move that ran directly counter to the anti-immigration rhetoric and action that defined President Donald Trump’s four years in office. The President-elect also received pressure from immigration groups throughout the campaign, many of whom worried that the deportation that happened during the Obama presidency would continue in the Biden administration.
The central tenet of Biden’s plan is the pathway to citizenship, which would allow certain undocumented immigrants to achieve citizenship within eight years. The plan, according to the source, would give certain immigrants temporary status for five years, allow them to apply for green cards after that time and once they have met certain criteria, then allow them to apply for citizenship three years later.
For recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — so-called Dreamers who were protected under a program first started by President Barack Obama — the pathway would be streamlined, allowing them to apply for a green card immediately.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris recently described the soon-to-be released immigration plan in an interview with Univision.
“It will be about creating a pathway for people to earn citizenship. We’re going to reduce the time from what is now has been currently 13 years to eight years. We are going to expand protections for Dreamers and DACA recipients. “These are some of the things that we’re going to do on our immigration bill. And we believe it is a smarter and a more humane way of approaching immigration.”
Trump made immigration one of the central tenets of his presidential bid, pledging to build a wall along the US-Mexico border as a way to curb undocumented immigrants from coming to the United States. While some of the wall has been built, Trump’s actions have failed to live up to his words and he leaves office with only a handful of immigration accomplishments to tout.
The likelihood of a sweeping immigration bill passing Congress is an open question. Previous attempts, like the concerted pushed to pass an immigration bill in 2013, failed, and the Republican Party now includes more immigration hardliners after four years under Trump.
“I would be privileged to work with Congress to pass immigration reform legislation that provides that path and provides a permanent solution to what is clearly a broken system,” Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, told senators on Tuesday.