As of today, the chances of that law being passed are zero, among other things, because the bill by Sanchez and Menendez – both Democrats – does not include a dollar to reinforce border surveillance. It is 35 years ago that the United States, under the presidency of Ronald Reagan, approved its latest immigration reform, which established an amnesty for three million undocumented immigrants who could thus acquire a nationality. Since then, the problem has stalled in that country. George W. Bush – a Republican, like Ronald Reagan – is the last president to try to carry out an amnesty for undocumented immigrants, who number 11 million people in about fifteen years. His successor, Barack Obama, never fulfilled his electoral promise to launch reform.
Now it’s Joe Biden’s turn. The possibilities of a reform that allows the path to citizenship or, at least, to legality, the eleven million undocumented people who live in the country – and whose number has not changed since 2008 – seem remote. But where there are possibilities of consensus is on smaller fronts, such as opening a path to citizenship to the approximately 1.1 million ‘dreamers’, that is, people who are legal immigrants but who arrived in the US as minors, in many cases when they were children, with their parents.
Legally, they are immigrants. But, in practice, they have spent their entire lives in the United States. Other groups that may benefit from the political consensus are people with temporary refugee status (temporary protected status, or, for its acronym in English, TPS) from ten countries (Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria, Nepal, and Yemen), and seasonal workers who come to perform agricultural tasks.
Those three groups – ‘dreamers’, TPS, and temporary workers – are the main beneficiaries of the bill presented this Thursday by the congresswoman in the House of Representatives, and that will be introduced in the Senate next week by Senator Bob Menendez. In three years, people in those three categories could achieve US citizenship. That means less than two million illegal immigrants. The remaining nine million would have to wait eight years to achieve their citizenship, after passing a series of fines and examinations. As of today, the chances of that law being passed are zero.
Among other things, because the bill by Sanchez and Menendez – both Democrats – does not include a dollar to reinforce border surveillance. The Republican Party of 2021 has little to do with that of 1986, and its opposition to immigration is one of its hallmarks. And, for Democrats, the priorities now are to approve the economic aid package against Covid-19 and, in the summer, the stimulus program that launches the US economy after the pandemic. Once again, immigrants are They remain on the road, although the bill does open the door to a negotiation from which, perhaps, a partial reform that includes dreamers, TPS, and temporary workers will emerge.