ROANOKE, Va. – In four years, the Trump administration made 400 policy changes related to immigration. Now President Joe Biden’s reform law could open a new stage in one fell swoop.
Eleven million undocumented residents in the United States could obtain citizenship in just eight years.
Under the current complex immigration system, obtaining citizenship can take up to two decades.
“If you have a civic brother who is applying for you and waiting for a husband or spouse for more than 20 years, you see a two- to three-year process,” said Jennifer Grace Smyrnos, immigration attorney.
But President Biden’s plan is that immigrants would be given five years protection from deportation, then they could apply for a green card, which is an additional three years’ process.
Border security is a key difference between what was planned during the Obama administration and what Biden is proposing. Between 2009 and 2015, more than 2.5 million immigrants were deported.
Instead of focusing on enforcement at the border, President Biden intends to invest in technology and set up immigration offices in other countries.
“This would potentially allow the screening application for individuals to apply from the safety of their home country rather than embarking on a very dangerous journey,” Smyrnos said.
The President offers the more than 640,000 DACA recipients the opportunity to apply for a green card immediately. A drastic contrast to the Trump administration’s efforts to cancel the program.
While Smyrnos doesn’t think this will lead to more mass caravans, she points out that immigration authorities are already lagging behind and believes more paperwork will reach their desks.
“You are already working under a system that has changed a lot in the last four years and we are already seeing backlog,” she said. “It’s pretty extensive and tall as it has been for years.”
Although Democrats have a slim majority in Congress, Senate Republican support is still required to get the bill passed.
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