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Immigration Relief in the Build Back Better Act
5 Things to Know

Immigration provisions in the Build Back Better (BBB) Act would be the most historic immigration reforms in more than thirty years, including work permits and protection from deportation for nearly 7 million undocumented immigrants and critical modernizations to reduce backlogs in the immigration system.

The impact of this relief extends throughout American families and communities. In fact, more than 18 million people, or about 1 in 20 U.S. residents, live in households with at least one individual who would be impacted by immigration provisions in the Build Back Better Act. These households include 8.7 million U.S. citizens of which 4.3 million are U.S. citizen minor children.

The legislation passed the House of Representatives on November 18th, 2021, and now waits action in the Senate. Here’s five things to know about the bill.

Recent national polling shows that 75% of likely voters support immigration in the Build Back Better Act.
Data For Progress, 11/8/2021 "Congress Faces a Historic Opportunity to Deliver Transformative Immigration Relief"

1| Strong majority of American voters support immigration relief in BBB

Proposals for immigration in the Build Back Better Act are very popular with Americans. Recent national polling shows that 75% of likely voters (the vast majority) support immigration relief in BBB, including work permits and protection from deportation, for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than ten years.

Support for immigration in BBB is bipartisan, with 80% of Independent voters and nearly 60% of Republican voters saying they support the proposal.

This broad, bipartisan support is consistent with prior polling showing that Americans support immigration relief for undocumented immigrants. Previous polling from FWD.us found that strong majorities of voters, particularly in key battleground states, support a full pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The Build Back Better Act would provide immigration relief to about 7 million undocumented immigrants

2| Millions of American families would benefit from immigration relief in BBB

FWD.us estimates that the Build Back Better Act would provide immigration relief to about 7 million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for an average of 20 years. This relief includes protection from deportation and authorization to work, as well as access to life-saving health care and the ability to travel abroad to see family.

The potentially eligible population includes 4.2 million essential workers, 2 million Dreamers (including virtually all current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients), and about 500,000 individuals who are eligible for or recipients of Temporary Protected Status.

We estimate that roughly 2 million eligible individuals are immediate relatives (spouses or parents) of adult U.S. citizens, and could potentially access a pathway to citizenship.

For purposes of the Byrd Rule used in reconciliation bills, it is important to note that this proposal was specifically fit within the long defined reconciliation rules to ensure approval by the parliamentarian. The authority for this relief has existed in statute for decades, and is in line with how the government uses parole-in-place for humanitarian purposes today.

Read more about immigration in Build Back Better, including deportation protections and work permits, here.

Note: Economic expansion is additional, annual spending power after estimated federal, state, and local tax payments. Total taxes include federal, payroll, state and local taxes. Taxes do not take into account differences in local taxation rates. Some state economic estimates unavailable due to small populations. See Methodology for more details.
Source: FWD.us analysis of U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and augmented 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) data.

Access to work authorization would allow recipients to increase their economic contributions by an additional $17 billion annually.

3| Protections and work permits would have positive economic impact

In addition to protection from deportation, the Build Back Better Act would also allow certain undocumented immigrants to receive work permits for lawful employment.

We estimate that access to work authorization would allow recipients to increase their economic contributions by an additional $17 billion annually. We also estimate that the eligible population could also increase its federal, state, and local taxes by $10 billion annually.

The significant positive fiscal impact of these provisions should also support its approval under the Byrd Rule.

Read more about the economic impact of immigration in Build Back Better here.

More than 400,000 family- and employment-based visa numbers are likely available for recapture.”

4| Immigration modernizations would provide additional relief to families, bolster global competitiveness

The Build Back Better Act would also modernize the immigration system by recapturing unused visas and reducing backlogs that are keeping immigrants and their families waiting decades for green cards.

More than 5 million individuals who have started the green card process are stuck waiting for a visa number to be available, including nearly 1 million employment-based immigrants already living and working in the United States. According to congressional staff familiar with the proposal, more than 400,000 family- and employment-based visa numbers are likely available for recapture which, paired with early filing and cap exemptions, would be a significant step in reducing the backlogs.

These measures would provide long overdue relief to families trapped in the backlogs, and would restore efficiency and fairness to the immigration system, making the U.S. an even more attractive destination for highly skilled people from around the world. Modernizing the immigration system is a critical part of reinforcing the U.S.’ global competitiveness.

Reducing backlogs would also bolster the other immigration relief provisions, helping ensure that any recipients who qualify to adjust status are realistically able to do so.

Read more about visa recapture and backlog reduction in BBB here.

Congress must seize this opportunity to provide relief to millions of families across the United States, and continue its work to deliver them a full, permanent pathway to citizenship.

5| While far less than what is needed, relief would be life-changing for millions of families now

The immigration relief in the Build Back Better Act falls far short of the pathway to citizenship that undocumented immigrants and their families deserve. President Biden and leaders from both parties in Congress have made a commitment to the undocumented community and to the American people to provide a pathway to citizenship. We hold them to that commitment,and will continue working to achieve this north star goal.

At the same time, immigration relief that provides some certainty to millions of families, relieving the threat of deportation and allowing for lawful work, even if only temporarily, would be the most significant immigration policy to pass out of Congress in more than three decades and would have a tremendous positive impact for millions of people.

Congress must seize this opportunity to provide relief to millions of families across the United States, and continue its work to deliver them a full, permanent pathway to citizenship.

Read our statement on the House passage on the Build Back Better Act here.

Get in touch with us:

Andrew Moriarty

Deputy Director of Federal Policy

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