WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats introduced a bill on Wednesday that would provide a simple, sturdy pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have waited decades for relief, alongside millions of documented immigrants languishing in backlogs.
“Our outdated immigration system is hurting countless people and holding back America’s economy,” said Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), a cosponsor of the bill along with fellow Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (IL), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Ben Ray Luján (NM).
The companion bill to the “Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929” was introduced in the House by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) back in July, where it now has 60 cosponsors—all Democrats.
UPDATE: @latinorebels now has the bill text for the new immigration Registry legislation that drops tomorrow in the House (Note: it's hella short…2 pages). https://t.co/MrJfzKFZon pic.twitter.com/WckzLZArqF
— Pablo Manríquez (@PabloReports) July 19, 2022
The immigration registry bill is just two pages long, but its social and economic impact would be immense.
Eight million undocumented immigrants would be eligible for green cards. The bill would also help legal immigrants by clearing much of the green card backlog and protecting many documented dreamers, mostly from India.
Registry was one of the three options put to the Senate Parliamentarian during last year’s negotiations around the Build Back Better Act, which ultimately didn’t pass. Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), and Lou Correa (D-CA) led the charge for registry in the House as Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) did in Senate.
The new Senate bill would create a rolling registry for immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least seven years to come forward and register for a green card.
Registry creates no new programs but instead provides immigrants the opportunity to achieve permanent legal status in the U.S. without the complexity and hassle of previous relief efforts that have ultimately failed in Congress over the last few decades.
“The days of continuing to give Republicans a pound of flesh are over,” said Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA), one of the bill’s cosponsors. “It’s a policy that has failed.”
“Take a page from the Reagan administration,” Torres added, referring to the last major immigrant relief bill to pass Congress, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and gave a legal pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants during the late eighties.
“This is an opportunity that we’re giving Congress to legalize our community,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “It sets a framework so that we never are in a situation again, where we have this ballooning undocumented population.”
Pablo Manríquez is the Capitol Hill correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports