US president-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the US without legal status.
The move will be a massive reversal of President Donald Trump's harsh immigration policies.
Mr Biden would be on track to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Mr Trump’s restrictive policies and mass deportations.
It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship in recent years, but it fails to include the traditional trade-off of enhanced border security favoured by many Republicans, making passage in a narrowly divided Congress in doubt.
Expected to run to hundreds of pages, the bill is to be introduced after Mr Biden takes the oath of office on Wednesday.
As a candidate, Mr Biden called Mr Trump’s actions on immigration an “unrelenting assault” on American values and said he would “undo the damage” while continuing to maintain border enforcement.
Path to naturalisation;
Under the legislation, those living in the US as of January 1, 2021 without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other basic requirements.
From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalisation, if they decide to pursue citizenship.
For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the US illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status, could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements.
The bill is not as comprehensive as the last major immigration overhaul proposed when Mr Biden was vice president during the Barack Obama administration.