WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Senator Bob Menendez and Congresswoman Linda Sánchez introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which would create a fair, humane, and functional immigration system in the United States. FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement:
“The introduction of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 today on behalf of the President is a critical moment for immigration policy in the United States. This is a substantial step forward for major immigration legislation and would provide a desperately-needed pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants who have spent decades building their lives and families here. We commend President Biden for leading on this landmark bill, and Senator Menendez, Congresswoman Sánchez, and the other original cosponsors for this timely introduction.
“For years, communities across the country have been devastated by a long-failed and all too easily weaponized immigration system that has separated and traumatized millions of families, and which was last overhauled more than 30 years ago. Today, more than half of undocumented immigrants have been living in the United States for at least 15 years. Among them are hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients who came to this country on average at the age of 6 and have lived here for 23 years, as well as millions of essential frontline workers who have helped keep all of us safe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet by denying people a chance at citizenship, in many cases for decades, none have the opportunity to be recognized fully as the Americans they are without immediate action from Congress.
“The bill would also provide permanent protections for TPS holders and create much-needed changes to our legal immigration channels, including improvements to the family-based green card and employment-based green card system, growing our economy, creating jobs, and unlocking the potential for innovation and entrepreneurship. No policy is without room for improvement, however, and we hope Congress will improve upon efforts that currently exclude too many people who have been caught up in an overly punitive, discriminatory, and harsh criminal legal system.
“The need to build a fair, humane, and functional immigration system that keeps families safe and together could not be more urgent. This bill would be a tremendous step forward for our country’s public health and economic recovery, and it would help ensure more of our communities are safe, secure, and more prosperous. Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform a long-failed and too easily weaponized immigration system. The time is now and we will seize this moment.”
The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 is centered on creating a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in and contributing to the U.S., with an eight-year pathway to citizenship for those who qualify and an expedited pathway for DACA recipients and individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). It also makes substantial improvements to the employment-based and family-based immigration systems.
More than five million undocumented immigrants are serving our country as essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet remain at risk of being deported and separated from their families. Collectively, they are parents to 4.1 million U.S. citizen children.
Americans across the political spectrum overwhelmingly continue to support legal status for undocumented immigrants, with 65% in favor of a pathway to citizenship.