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President elect Joe bidenThe decision to immediately petition Congress to offer legal status to approximately 11 million people in the country has come as a surprise to advocates as the issue has long divided Democrats and Republicans, including within their own parties.

Biden will announce legislation on his first day in office to provide a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the United States illegally, according to four people briefed on his plans.

The president-elect campaigned on a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million people in the US illegally, but it was unclear how fast it would move as it struggled with the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, and other priorities. For advocates, memories were fresh of presidential candidate Barack Obama promising an immigration bill in his first year in office, in 2009, but not addressing the issue until his second term.
President-elect Joe Biden leaves St. Joseph at Brandywine Catholic Church, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Wilmington, Delaware. (AP)

Biden’s plan is the polar opposite of Donald Trump, whose successful 2016 presidential campaign was based in part on curbing or stopping illegal immigration.

“This truly represents a historic shift from Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda that recognizes that all undocumented immigrants currently in the United States must be placed on the path to citizenship,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law. Immigration. Center, who was briefed on the bill.

If successful, the legislation would be the biggest step toward granting status to people in the country illegally since President Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to nearly 3 million people in 1986. Legislative efforts to reform immigration policy failed in 2007 and 2013.

Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said Saturday that Biden will send an immigration bill to Congress “on his first day in office.” He did not elaborate and Biden’s office declined to comment on details.

Advocates were briefed in recent days on the bill’s broad lines by Esther Olivarria, deputy director of immigration at the White House Council on Home Affairs.

Members of the National Guard change shifts as they exit through anti-escalation security fences on Saturday, January 16, 2021, in Washington as security increases ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect. Kamala Harris. (AP)

Domingo Garcia, a former president of the League of Latin American Citizens, said Biden told advocates in a call Thursday that Trump’s impeachment in the Senate could delay consideration of the bill and that they should not be approved within. of the 100 days.

“I was pleasantly surprised that they were going to take quick action because we got the same promises from Obama, who was elected in 2008, and he totally failed,” Garcia said.

Ali Noorani, chairman of the National Immigration Forum and among those briefed Thursday night, said the immigrants would be put on an eight-year path to citizenship. There would be a faster track for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects people from deportation who came to the country as young children, and Temporary Protected Status, which grants temporary status to hundreds of thousands of people from conflict. countries, many from El Salvador.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris offered similar comments in an interview with Univision that aired on Tuesday, saying that DACA and TPS recipients “will automatically get green cards” while others would be on an eight-year path to citizenship.

More favorable attitudes toward immigration, especially among Democrats, may weigh in Biden’s favor this time. A Gallup poll last year found that 34 percent of respondents favored more immigration, up from 21 percent in 2016 and higher than at any time since it began asking the question in 1965. The poll found that the 77 percent felt that immigration was good for the country as a whole, slightly up from 72% in 2016.

Noorani said the separation of more than 5,000 children from their parents at the border, which peaked in 2018, alienated voters from Trump’s policies, particularly conservatives and evangelicals. He believes that an ever-changing outlook for DACA recipients also hurt Trump among people who felt he was using them as “political pawns.”

On Saturday, January 16, 2021, a lockdown is seen on anti-escalation security fences in Washington, as security increases ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. (AP)

“What was engraved on their mind was the family separation. They took it out on the Republican Party in 2018 and they took it out on Trump in 2020,” Noorani said. “To put a fine point on it, they want to end the cruelty of the Trump administration.”

It is impossible to know precisely how many people are in the country illegally. The Pew Research Center estimates there were 10.5 million in 2017, down from an all-time high of 12.2 million in 2007.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that there were 12 million people in the country illegally in 2015, nearly 80 percent of them for more than 10 years. More than half were Mexican.

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