Following an announcement from the White House of an immigration reform bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 was introduced to Congress last week by Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA). The bill would provide an 8-year pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, increase the number of available diversity visas, and direct more funding to immigration courts and technology.
Specifically, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would:
- Provide pathways to citizenship and strengthen labor protections: Dreamers, TPS holders, and qualifying agricultural workers would be able to apply for a green card immediately and can apply for citizenship after 3 years. All other undocumented immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes would have an 8-year path to citizenship and receive authorization to work in the meantime.
- Clear employment-based visa backlogs, recapture unused visas, reduce lengthy wait times, and eliminate per-country visa caps. These actions help retain STEM advanced degree holders from U.S. universities, facilitate access to green cards for workers in lower-wage industries, and provide H-1B visa dependents with work authorization while also preventing children of H-1B holders from aging out of the system.
- Reform border security by providing additional resources, state-of-the-art technology, infrastructure improvements. It also creates a Border Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee.
- Address the root causes of migration, while improving immigration courts and increasing protections for asylum seekers.
- Provid funding for immigrant integration services.
These actions help retain STEM advanced degree holders from U.S. universities, facilitate access to green cards for workers in lower-wage industries, and provide H-1B visa dependents with work authorization while preventing children from aging out of the system. In addition, prioritizing smart border controls ensures national security while facilitating cross-border commerce and promoting economic development. Advancing border infrastructure projects such as the Otay Mesa East Land Port of Entry in our region will help reduce air pollution and alleviate congestion at the border which already causes over $7.2 billion in lost economic output for the U.S. and Mexico.
The bill has received wide support from technology companies including Google, Apple, and other business groups which have underlined that the bill would boost U.S. economy, create jobs, and attract talent from across the world.