by Matthew Volfson
March 29, 2021
The United States Citizenship Act of 2021, sent to Congress by President Biden on January 20, 2021, attempts to make the U.S. immigration system easier for undocumented immigrants and immigrants generally. The legislation would give undocumented immigrants living in the United States a pathway to citizenship. It would also allow immigrants fleeing from natural disaster to be able to apply for and gain temporary green card visas to enter the United States. And the legislation would attempt to emphasize the United States’ commitment to immigration by raising the country’s immigration quotas and levelling the application field for entering the United States so that it is not biased against or in favor of any immigrant group.
There are approximately 14.5 million undocumented immigrants within the United States. Experts say that it is difficult, if not impossible, to compute an exact number for the net cost of undocumented immigrants to the U.S. because of a lack of data on the undocumented population in America. Biden’s legislation would give all these immigrants the opportunity to “apply for temporary legal status… with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes.” The legislation could also allow immigrants from areas such as the Maldives, currently only four feet and eleven inches above sea level, to come to the United States in the future in case flooding becomes catastrophic. It could encourage more individuals from war-torn countries such as Somalia or dictatorships such as Venezuela seeking a better life to come to the United States.
This legislation has already passed the House of Representatives because the Democrats have the majority there — the vote was largely based on party lines. The legislation’s passage through the Senate is less certain because the Senate filibuster would require a supermajority, or two thirds of the Senate, to shut down the protest against the bill. The Republican Party showed its opposition to the legislation in the House: only nine Republicans voted in favor of the bill. Senate Republicans are likely to follow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who believes the legislation would “exacerbate problems at the border.”
Many BUA students are the children of immigrants; then, it comes as no surprise that BUA students are interested in immigration. BUA students seem to have a positive reaction to Biden’s legislation. Rohan Biju ‘23, a BUA sophomore and immigrant from India, believes that “everyone [should deserve] an equal chance at trying to come to the U.S. Of course, a person’s chance of coming to the U.S. shouldn’t be based on their country’s population or something else.” He believes that undocumented immigrants “[shouldn’t] get deported back immediately.”
The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would attempt to stem any budgetary losses by the United States and clear any possible backlog of immigration cases because of an increase in undocumented immigrants. The legislation would essentially aim to regulate the immigration flow of undocumented immigrants by giving them an easier opportunity to come into the country. The same would go for regular immigration: the legislation would seek to increase the number of regular immigrants and make sure the applicants for citizenship are on a level playing field.
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