A group of House Democrats is reviving an effort to give a pathway to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants who are already in the U.S. by updating a nearly century-old registry to allow for their statuses to be adjusted.
Six Democrats this week reintroduced the Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929. The bill would update a status adjustment process — commonly known as the registry — that allows for those in the country illegally before a certain date to have their status regularized.
The registry was last updated in 1986 and at that time allowed for illegal immigrants who had been in the country continuously since 1972 to have their status adjusted and obtain a green card, which in turn would allow them to apply for U.S. citizenship.
The Democrats introducing the bill — Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Norma Torres, D-Calif., Lou Correa, D-Calif., Grace Meng, D-NY, Adriano Espaillat, D-NY, and Jesús “Chuy” García, D-Ill. — said it would affect approximately eight million immigrants, a population greater than the state of Arizona. In a press release, the Democrats said that 148 local, regional and national organizations supported the measure.
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Lofgren, the lead sponsor on the bill, took a shot at Republicans for “political stunts” on immigration and the border.
“While the extreme MAGA Republicans make dozens of trips to the border and perform other political stunts, my colleagues and I are once again focusing on immigration action by reintroducing this commonsense registry legislation that is simply an update of the law that was first put in place in 1929,” she said.
“As our predecessors in the 70th Congress understood, providing stability to those who are of good character and who have resided here for a significant period of time is good for America. Updating this historically bipartisan provision to provide lawful permanent resident status to vetted immigrants who have been a part of our communities for years will make our country stronger,” she said. “Updating this historically bipartisan provision to provide lawful permanent resident status to vetted immigrants who have been a part of our communities for years will make our country stronger.”
“It’s no secret immigrants built our nation – and those who came to the United States years ago in search of a better life and have set down roots here deserve a chance at permanent residence,” Rep. Espaillat said. “There are currently millions of immigrants living in legal limbo who face an uncertain future regarding their residency status. Our bill will provide them with a pathway toward citizenship allowing roughly eight million immigrants who have been residing in the U.S. for at least seven years, a chance to obtain their green cards through registry.”
Democrats have previously made a number of attempts to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, including a registry update attempt, but so far they have been thwarted.
The Biden administration and congressional Democrats introduced a sweeping immigration bill in early 2021, which included a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already in the country.
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When that bill failed to pick up any Republican support, Democrats attempted to get a number of forms of amnesty through via the budget reconciliation process later in the year. One of those attempts included an update to the registry. All the options were rejected by the Senate parliamentarian as inappropriate for a budget bill. The effort eventually fell apart after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-Va., withdrew his support.
But the push for legalization for illegal immigrants has continued, including with calls from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Vice President Kamala Harris and President Biden — who made an appeal at the State of the Union address last month.
“America’s border problems won’t be fixed until Congress acts. If we won’t pass my comprehensive immigration reform, at least pass my plan to provide the equipment and officers to secure the border. And a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farmworkers, and essential workers,” Biden said.