Joe Biden plans to grant citizenship to 11M illegal immigrants on day 1, ending Donald Trump’s restrictions

Joe Biden plans to grant citizenship to 11M illegal immigrants on day 1, ending Donald Trump’s restrictions
President-elect Joe Biden and immigrants trying to enter the US (Getty Images)

The incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden has a major plan scheduled on its very first day in office and it is about putting forward a sweeping immigration proposal. The new plan would pave the way to providing citizenship to 11M people who are considered to be living in the US illegally, marking a complete turnaround from what the outgoing administration is pursuing. In fact, Associated Press recently cited Biden’s incoming chief of staff that the Democrat has plans to take executive action to reverse some of his predecessor’s most controversial decisions, besides addressing the coronavirus pandemic in his first hours as the commander-in-chief. 

The new administration is already facing questions on undoing the immigration policies that incumbent President Donald Trump pursued over the last four years and are considered far from humane. Recently, chaotic scenes unfolding at the borders between Honduras and Guatemala as thousands of Honduran migrants were removed by security forces while advancing towards the American territory to seek shelter.


Some 1,500 Honduran immigrants walk north in a migrant caravan on October 16, 2018, near Esquipulas, Guatemala (Getty Images)

Top officials of the incoming administration, including the president-elect, have said in the recent past that executing immigration reforms was difficult to accomplish overnight and a rushed approach could complicate things. An official of the Biden team recently said that the situation at the border will not change overnight and advised the Honduran migrants not to continue with their US-bound journey at the moment. However, the new administration’s preparation for a sweeping immigration legislation at the very beginning shows that it is serious over an issue that has often grabbed the headlines for wrong reasons in the Trump era. 

“On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the US from some Muslim-majority countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff,” AP reported

The report added that helping millions of immigrants in the US get citizenship will be part of Biden’s agenda, as per people who are informed about his plans. “Ali Noorani, president of the National Immigration Forum and among those briefed, said immigrants would be put on an eight-year path. There would be a faster track for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields people from deportation who came to the US as children, and for those from strife-torn countries with temporary status,” the report said. The DACA program was announced by former president Barack Obama, to whom Biden acted as No. 2. 

Daily Mail, however, reported that it was unclear till Monday, January 18, when the announcement on the immigration legislation would take place. 


The Capitol (Getty Images)

Biden's success will require action from Congress

Biden’s sweeping proposals would require action from the Congress, something his incoming chief of staff Klain also wrote in his memo. Congress has the Democrats’ upper hand, yet the gap is not too big. While the Dems have a narrow majority in the House, the Senate is even closely split. It may be mentioned here that Obama took his executive actions on DACA after Congress repeatedly failed to arrive at a bipartisan legislation.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration is expected to act big on the immigration issue which has remained a hot one in the days of the Trump presidency. The outgoing president was always vocal about unfettered immigration, sought to put a Muslim ban followed by a multi-nation ban on immigration, targeted DACA and immigrant caravans and faced flak for draconian border procedures that separated families.

It is now to be seen how Biden gives wings to his ambitious plan to offer legal status to several millions present in the US. Many are eager to see the outcome since the issue has divided both the major parties for a long time.


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