Godoy Law Office: Immigration Law Reforms

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After two decades of disagreement over major reforms to outdated and broken U.S. immigration laws, Congress seems poised to get it right by tackling some of the system’s worst dysfunctions. However, much remains to be done if the Biden administration hopes to achieve its goal of immigration reform.

Biden’s best law to rebuild

Key immigration reforms are buried under Biden’s Better Rebuilding Act which saw a narrow passage through the House on Friday 19th 2021. The vote was due to take place on Thursday but was delayed by Kevin McCarthy, the speech of the day the aftermath of the minority leader spanning eight long hours.

The bill still faces a significant hurdle in the Senate. It’s unclear whether some moderate Democratic senators like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin will agree to some provisions. But whether the legislation passes or not, it’s time America got serious about immigration and embarked on the slow but necessary journey of building an immigration system that helps the United States meet its 21st challenges.

By passing the Best Build Act, the Biden administration is seeking to “reclaim” unused green cards under the Trump administration. This bill provides the opportunity for legal immigrants who have been denied visas by decree or because of the coronavirus to reapply for a visa. Additionally, if the bill passes the Senate, more than 8 million undocumented immigrants will be on the way to obtaining US citizenship.

Obstacles along the way

The advantage of this bill is that it will not have to go through the filibuster. This means that a simple majority is enough to pass the bill. However, there are uncertainties over whether moderate Democrats such as Krysten Sinema, Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders will vote for the bill. For the bill to pass, all Democrats must vote in favor of it.

If there are to be sweeping changes to immigration laws, a bipartisan approach to reform is needed. But on the face of it, the Democrats don’t want it. Since the 2000s, Democrats have opted for an all-or-nothing approach to immigration reform, with all their attempts having failed.

The last time the Senate passed comprehensive immigration legislation was in 2013, when both sides voted in favor by 68 votes. The bill was intended to open doors to the world’s best talent and give hundreds of thousands of immigrants a chance to acquire citizenship. Unfortunately, Bill was killed by the House, which was led by Republicans.

Lack of political goodwill

“There is a general lack of political goodwill to solve the immigration problem,” declared Aman Kapoor, the president of Immigration Voices. Biden and Democrats in general should abandon their all-or-nothing approach and reach out to Republicans to help them reform the current rules and make it easier for highly skilled immigrants to obtain citizenship.

Reform immigration laws would help make the United States attractive to highly skilled immigrants, which would help the country maintain its technological leadership in light of China’s growing technological advancements. This includes keeping the door open to the best Chinese minds and encouraging them to study and live in the United States.

[Image via Pexels]

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