The House Judiciary Committee spent Monday September 13th marking up their legislative proposal for the $107.5 billion reserved for “lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants” in the reconciliation package. They are trying to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants. After this process, the text will be combined with the larger Build Back Better reconciliation plan and voted on in the House before moving to the Senate.
The first part of the legislation provides a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS/DED holders, farmworkers, and other essential workers. The provisions in the reconciliation bill would allow about eight million people to qualify for green cards.
The second component is the recapture of unused green cards and the restoration of specific immigrant visas that were made unavailable. The former involves the recapturing and restoration of thousands of unused visas lost due to slow technical processing dating back to 1992. The majority of these will go to family-based visas, alleviating existing visa backlogs. The latter ambition will offer diversity visas to those previously selected in the diversity visa lottery but denied visas due to COVID or other travel ban restrictions. All of those unable to claim visas due to the Muslim ban will be able to reapply.
The final part of the legislation is an investment in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Roughly $2.8 billion will be allocated to increase capacity at USCIS to support adjudication of applications and reduce processing backlogs.
This bill is essential. Undocumented immigrants have played a key role in the response to this pandemic, and the recovery of the economy in its wake is dependent upon them. A report by the Center of American Progress found that the country’s economy would expand by $1.7 trillion over 10 years if Congress were to provide a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated support for the move in a press conference this July, and Senator Bob Mendez of New Jersey has been a vocal advocate for it. It is for the betterment of all that this pathway to citizenship be created.
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