EASTON — Democrats and President Joe Biden are pushing an immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S.
It’s one of many changes coming from Biden to reverse former President Donald Trump’s more hardline stances on immigration and border security.
Official estimates say there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Other groups put that number at 20 million or more.
Delmarva Democrats welcomed the immigration push while conservatives faulted the move as a politically driven amnesty that will hurt American workers already hit by the COVID pandemic.
U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md-1st., said legal status for undocumented immigrants will have detrimental economic impacts on American workers.
“We already admit 1 million legal immigrants every year. With unemployment still so high, it’s crazy to give full legal status and citizenship to more than 11 million illegal aliens that would allow them to compete with Americans for jobs,” said Harris, who represents the Eastern Shore and supports Trump.
Trump opposed amnesty, built large sections of a border wall with Mexico and took tough stances on asylum seekers and Central American migrant caravans.
Biden has reversed Trump’s bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, stopped border wall construction and has instructed federal agencies not to use terms such as “illegal aliens.” The Biden administration will use more inclusive language, according to reports.
Biden and Democrats are looking for a series of immigration reforms. That includes legal status for those illegally in the country.
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., is one of the prime backers of Biden’s immigration push including the Temporary Protected Status program that allows some immigrants from Central America and Haiti and other countries with internal strife to live and work in the U.S.
“Immigrants are essential to our communities, contributing to our economy as a whole, and often working on the front lines to defeat COVID-19. The U.S. Citizenship Act marks an important step forward to reform the immigration process for our country,” Van Hollen said in a statement.
“I’m pleased to see this sweeping plan to reverse the Trump administration’s backward immigration policies that were not only morally repugnant but also harmed our economy and compromised our nation’s ideals. This bill provides an expanded pathway to citizenship for hardworking people who make our communities stronger every day. It also provides certainty to our Dreamers, TPS recipients, and essential workers who have risked their lives to serve and protect our communities,” Van Hollen said.