House Democrats to Introduce Immigration Registry Bill to Create Citizenship Pathway for Millions

Jul 18, 2022
10:49 AM

Immigrants taking the Oath of Citizenship (Pulbic Domain)

WASHINGTON — Capitol Hill sources confirmed to Latino Rebels over the weekend that a bill to create a citizenship pathway for approximately eight million undocumented will be introduced this week in the House of Representatives.

The new bill, called the “Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929,” will be introduced at a Wednesday morning press conference by Democratic Reps. Zoe Lofgren (CA), Norma Torres (CA), Grace Meng (NY), Lou Correa (CA), Adriano Espaillat (NY), and Jesús “Chuy” García (IL), according to a news release by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

“Specifically, the bill establishes a seven years of presence eligibility to apply for a green card. It incorporates a rolling component so that future legislation would not be required to update the INA registry,” said a draft advisory for the bill shared exclusively with Latino Rebels over the weekend.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) is a 1952 law that’s been updated several times since it was first enacted—most notably, by moving forward the registry date on which immigrants would be eligible for a green card.

The new bill would update the registry date by replacing a specific cut-off date  —currently January 1, 1972— requiring immigrants to be present for a minimum of seven years to qualify.

“The seven-year presence ensures that registry does not become obsolete over time,” said the advisory.

Changing the immigration registry was briefly discussed last year during negotiations over the Build Back Better Act, a failed reconciliation bill that was a major focus for House and Senate Democrats.

At the last minute, some immigrant rights groups pushed to replace the registry proposal, which would’ve offered a permanent legal status to millions of immigrants, with a watered-down proposal for protections from deportations, such as immigrant parole, that could be rolled back by any sitting president at any time.

Back then, spokesperson Alida Garcia said on MSNBC that the parole proposal was preferable because it conformed with Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough’s views on immigration policy. MacDonough ultimately rejected the FWD proposal outright.

The decision by some grassroots advocates at FWD and Immigration Hub to undermine the citizenship pathway confused and outraged many immigration advocates on Capitol Hill. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), for example, famously decried the decision to move ahead with immigrant parole over registry.

“There are certain advocacy groups, national organizations, that may have a footprint here in Washington but do not have a presence in immigrant communities,” Ocasio-Cortez told Latino Rebels in November. “They have been hampering progress in some of these negotiations because actual grassroots organizations have been pushing for registry.”

This time, advocates are eager to move forward with the registry proposal.

“We call upon all members of Congress of good heart to support the ‘Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929.’ This would provide immediate relief to essential workers, DREAMers, TPS-holders and farmworkers,” said Maria Mercado, spokeswoman for Movement for Justice in El Barrio, an East Harlem organization consisting primarily of immigrant women. “Immigrants have always been essential workers that have sustained the economy of this country. That was made much more visible to all throughout the pandemic, when essential workers sacrificed and risked their lives on a daily basis for civil society. If a pathway to citizenship is not approved now, then what will happen years down the line when civil society begins to forget these efforts?”

A spokesperson for CHIRLA speaking on background wanted to make clear that the new bill is not a new version of the Reagan amnesty in 1986, in which the registry date was changed from from June 30, 1948 to January 1, 1972, allowing for the legalization of tens of thousands of immigrants during the late eighties.

“As with an update on the registry date, there is none of the immigration reform elements we have fought for long,” said the spokesperson. “The registry date we would seek allows the 1972 date to change but nothing about the messed up immigration system would change, which would require immigration reform package, which registry is not.”


Pablo Manríquez is the Capitol Hill correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports