ROANOKE, Va. – In a span of four years, the Trump administration made 400 policy changes in regards to immigration. Now, President Joe Biden’s reform bill could set a new stage in one swoop.
Eleven million undocumented residents in the United States could find themselves obtaining citizenship in just a matter of eight years.
Based on the current complex immigration system, attaining citizenship can take up to two decades.
“If they have a citizen brother that is applying for them that is upwards of a 20-year wait versus a husband or spouse you are looking at a two to three-year process,” Immigration Attorney, Jennifer Grace Smyrnos said.
But President Biden’s plan says for five years, immigrants would gain protection from deportation, then they will have the ability to apply for a green card, which is a process of an extra three years.
Border security is a key difference between what panned out during the Obama administration and what Biden is proposing. More than 2.5 million immigrants were deported between 2009 and 2015.
Rather than focus on enforcement at the border, President Biden intends to invest in technology and establish immigration offices in other countries.
“That would allow potentially the screening application for individuals to apply from the safety of their home country instead of taking what’s been a very dangerous journey,” Smyrnos said.
As for the more than 640,000 DACA recipients, the President is offering them the ability to immediately apply for a green card. A drastic contrast compared to the Trump administrations’ efforts to eliminate the program.
While Smyrnos does not believe this will incite more mass caravans, she points out that immigration agencies are already on backlog and believes more paperwork will reach their desks.
“They are already working under a system that’s been rot with tremendous change in the past four years and we are already seeing backlogs,” she said. “It’s kind of extensive and it’s high as they have been in years.”
Though Democrats hold a slim majority in Congress, support from Republicans in Senate is still needed to pass into law.