UPDATED 9:55 AM PT – Friday, February 19, 2021
For the past several election cycles, Democrats have called for a massive overhaul of the U.S. immigration system. On Thursday, they presented what they believed was the pinnacle of progressive reform, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. Even the New York Times called this measure a “lengthy wish list for pro-immigration activists.”
The truth is the last four years have exacerbated our already broken immigration system. The legislation I sent to Congress will bring about much-needed reform and restore humanity to our policies. I look forward to working with Congress to get it done. https://t.co/35U0J3NgQr
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 19, 2021
While the dozen cosponsors seemed pleased with their efforts, not all analysts were as convinced the move was practical.
Casey Higgins, who has worked for over a decade as a congressional adviser to the Republican leadership, commented on the bill after it was released. Higgins said it represented the left’s dream deal, but had little chance of making it to the Oval Office in one piece.
“So, while I think this is a great marker for the left and maybe indicative of, in an ideal world where the Biden Harris administration would want to go, I think this is a political exercise to show exactly what their position is, but it’s not necessarily a lawmaking exercise,” Higgins said.
The centerpiece of their “ideal” immigration policy, a clear path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in this country. Further, an increase in the speed of certain immigration cases, providing an easier route to America for immigrants who haven’t made it here yet.
Republicans have pushed back, saying opening the doors to the country, especially at a time of economic peril, will only lead to catastrophe.
While the Biden administration does agree with the sentiment, instead of spending money to fortify the border, Democrats have proposed sending $4 billion to countries in Central America to “curb migration.”
However, by overreaching, the Democrats may come up empty handed, a feeling Higgins pointed out they should remember well.
“That’s part of the reason you even saw House Democrats pivot away from a big comprehensive piece of immigration legislation last Congress, was because instead of giving everyone a reason to vote yes, it gives everyone a reason to vote no,” Higgins said. “And in the past, we’ve seen it collapse under its own weight.”
The bill still has the entire rest of the legislative process ahead of it, which will be an uphill battle in a thoroughly divided Congress.