On Thursday, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 was introduced to both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is the lead Senate sponsor, while Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) is the lead House sponsor.
According to the sponsors, the act —which is based on a January 20 fact sheet from the White House— attempts to address the following issues, which were shared in a media release:
- Addresses the root causes of migration from Central America by funding the President’s four-year plan to increase assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras conditioned on their ability to reduce the corruption, violence, poverty, and famine that now causes people to flee.
- Creates safe and legal channels for people to seek protection, so they can apply for legal status in Central America instead of making the dangerous journey north. The bill also re-institutes the Central American Minors program to reunite children with U.S. relatives and creates a Central American Family Reunification Parole Program to more quickly unite families with approved family sponsorship petitions.
- Cracks down on bad actors by enhancing the ability to prosecute individuals involved in smuggling, narcotics and trafficking networks who are responsible for drugs flowing into our country and the exploitation of migrants. It will also expand transnational anti-gang task forces in Central America.
- Improves the immigration courts and protects vulnerable individuals by expanding family case management programs, reducing immigration court backlogs, expanding training for immigration judges, and improving technology for immigration courts. It also restores fairness and balance to our immigration system by providing judges and adjudicators with discretion to review cases and grant relief to deserving individuals, and also gives funding for school districts educating unaccompanied children.
- Modernizes and manages the border effectively through the use of technology that enhances our ability to detect contraband and counter transnational criminal networks since illicit drugs are most likely to be smuggled through legal ports of entry. It also authorizes and provides funding for plans to improve infrastructure at ports of entry to enhance the ability to process asylum seekers and detect, interdict, disrupt and prevent narcotics from entering the United States.
- Protects border communities by providing for additional rescue beacons to prevent needless deaths along the border, requiring agent training and oversight to investigate criminal and administrative misconduct, and requiring department-wide policies governing the use of force. It also authorizes and provides funding for DHS, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and nongovernmental experts, to develop guidelines and protocols for standards of care for individuals, families, and children in CBP custody.
The following Democratic senators are co-sponsors of the Senate bill: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).
The following Democratic congressional members are co-sponsors of the House bill: Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Karen Bass (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Darren Soto (D-FL), Mike Levin (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Gregorio Kilil Camacho Sablan (D-MP), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-GU), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Peter Welch (D-VT), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), Bradley Schneider (D-IL), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Val B. Demings (D-FL), Al Green (D-TX), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Marie Newman (D-IL), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Nikema Williams (D-GA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), David Trone (D-MD), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), John Garamendi (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Doris Matsui (D-CA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Deborah Ross (D-NC), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Marc A. Veasey (D-TX), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Stacey E. Plaskett (D-VI).
According to Politico, some Democrats —particularly those from Texas border communities— have expressed serious concern about the timing of the act’s introduction to Congress.
This is the bill that was introduced to the Senate:
This is the bill that was introduced to the House of Representatives: