Sen. Menendez tapped to help usher in immigration reform under Biden administration
President Joe Biden is asking Congress to pass an overhaul on the nation’s immigration system, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people who are in the United States illegally. Sen. Bob Menendez is taking the lead on that plan in the Senate.
“It means so much to all of us to have a new president propose bold and visionary immigration reform on Day 1,” Menendez says.
The Democratic senator says that reform won’t be an easy task.
“This will be tough. I’m not Pollyanna on this. I have been in Congress between the House and the Senate for 29 years and I understand it will take a lot of hard work. It will take a lot of negotiation as well,” he says.
The bill would apply for those living in the U.S. illegally before Jan 1. The bill would allow migrants to apply for protected status. They must pay taxes and pass a background check. They can get a green card after five years and apply for citizenship three years later.
“Lawful prospective immigrants will be authorized to work, to travel, to join the military without the fear of deportation. And this will encompass both their spouses and their children,” says Menendez.
If the bill is passed, farmworkers and undocumented migrants brought to the country as children, colloquially known as “Dreamers,” would be eligible for green cards immediately.
Supporters of immigration reform demonstrated in Newark on Thursday to push the Biden administration for action.
“When the president called me to support him last year, this is one of the first questions I asked him, ‘How serious are you on immigration?’ And I believe he is very serious,” says Menendez.
California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, says the Menendez-sponsored bill shows the "new administration was more interested in helping illegal immigrants than helping our own citizens."
Biden also ordered a 100-day pause in deportations starting on Friday. Non-citizens found to be a threat to the United States or those who were not in the country before Nov. 1, can still be deported.