His bill includes a plan to fast-track immigration applications by expanding virtual interviews and electronic filing.
President Joe Biden made it very clear from Day One that he wanted to change our immigration system. On Jan. 20, the president sent Congress an immigration bill that would allow “hardworking people who enrich our communities every day and who have lived here for years an opportunity to earn citizenship.” Now there are new details about Biden’s immigration reform and what that looks like for the Latino community.
RELATED: Congress Needs to Fix Backlog That Silenced 300,000 Potential Immigrant Voters by Passing the Citizenship Act
People seeking to become naturalized citizens will now face fewer obstacles, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. Among those changes for immigrants are less complicated forms, better opportunities to reunite with their American families, and more chances to get work visas.
The 46-page draft, dated May 3 and titled DHS Plan to Restore Trust in Our Legal Immigration System, “maps out the Biden administration’s plans to significantly expand the legal immigration system, including methodically reversing the efforts to dismantle it by former President Donald J. Trump, who reduced the flow of foreign workers, families, and refugees, erecting procedural barriers tougher to cross than his ‘big, beautiful wall.'”
The draft by the Biden administration includes addressing backlogs in the immigration system, which is up 80% since 2014 and has more than 900,000 cases.
Other changes include a plan to fast-track immigration applications by expanding virtual interviews and electronic filing, as well as limiting the requests for evidence from applicants. Immigrants could also end up paying less in application fees.
Last month, the National Partnership for New Americans released a report that outlined how waiving naturalization fees could accelerate America’s COVID-19 recovery.
“The evidence is overwhelming that citizenship helps immigrants and their families realize their full economic potential, and that’s good not only for them but for their communities and the country as a whole,” said Nicole Melaku, executive director of NPNA and a daughter of naturalized US citizens. “This is why we’re urging Congress to waive the $725 fee entirely for an 18-month period, at least for essential workers or those earning less than $75,000 per year. We also need to pass the New Deal for New Americans Act, which would permanently reduce the fee to $50 and further facilitate naturalization.”
Legal immigration plummeted under the Trump administration. Trump sought to reduce legal immigration by 63%. By November 2020, the Trump administration reduced the number of green cards issued to people abroad by at least 418,453 and the number of nonimmigrant visas by at least 11,178,668 during his first term, according to the Cato Institute.
The New York Times reports that with fewer immigrants entering the country and seeking citizenship, there has been less money to finance Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is supported almost entirely by fees paid by immigrants.