Biden to call on lawmakers to pass immigration reform in joint address
BY AUSTIN LANDIS WASHINGTON, D.C.
PUBLISHED 4:44 PM ET APR. 28, 2021
President Joe Biden is expected to call for Congress to pass immigration reform in his address to lawmakers Wednesday night, specifically calling for protections for Dreamers, farmworkers and others living in the United States with temporary status.
What You Need To Know
President Joe Biden will call on Congress to pass immigration reform in his joint address Wednesday, a White House official said
Biden will specifically call on lawmakers to provide relief to Dreamers, farmworkers and other groups that traditionally have bipartisan support
The president unveiled his sweeping plan for immigration reform on day one of his presidency, but it faces an uphill battle on Capitol Hill
On Wednesday, Biden will also mention Vice President Kamala Harris's work on addressing the root causes of migration from Central America
The president will ask lawmakers to consider the U.S. Citizenship Act, the sweeping proposal that Biden sent to Capitol Hill on day one of his presidency, according to a White House official familiar with the speech.
The legislation, which was introduced in both the House and Senate in February, includes a pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million people living undocumented in the U.S.
On Wednesday night, President Biden will also call on Congress to act to aid Dreamers – immigrants brought who entered the country unauthorized as children – as well as farmworkers and people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Support for those groups is bipartisan, and the House passed two bills last month with Republican support that would offer relief to Dreamers and farmworkers.
In addition, First Lady Jill Biden invited a DACA recipient and nurse named Javier Quiroz as one of her guests at a virtual reception Wednesday afternoon, which replaced the traditional viewing box inside the Capitol where the first lady usually hosts a group of guests that personify the president’s priorities.
“I’m currently taking care of COVID-19 patients and have been doing so since the pandemic started,” Quiroz said at the event. “I grew up here. This is home to me. Growing up undocumented was extremely challenging, but I was blessed to have hard-working parents.”
The Washington Post first reported how the president will touch on immigration in his address.
Yet Biden’s ambitious immigration plan has taken a backseat to other legislative priorities in the public eye, such as the two-part infrastructure package he unveiled this month. He’s expected to make the case for his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan Wednesday night, which includes money for things like universal preschool and free community college.
It’s unlikely that Biden will specifically address the current situation at the border in his address, which Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called on him to do this week.
“I am hopeful that the President will finally announce a plan to address the crisis at our southern border because, so far, the Administration has been largely silent,” Cornyn said in a statement. “The crisis at the southern border is real, it's big, and it's growing.”
Last week, Cornyn introduced a bipartisan proposal with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., that would aim to tackle the surges in migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. This year, U.S. officials are on track to encounter more people at the border than they have in 20 years.
On Wednesday night, President Biden will also mention Vice President Kamala Harris and her task of addressing the root causes of migration through work with the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
But Republicans have criticized the president and vice president for not visiting the border in the meantime.
President Biden’s immigration proposal doesn’t include a major increase in border security, though it does include new use of technology at the border and a plan to update ports of entry.
Still, the bill faces a steep climb in Congress, since it’s unlikely to get 10 Republican votes needed for it to pass the Senate.
Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., who introduced the proposal in the House, praised the president’s attention to the immigration and other issues in a statement Wednesday.
“For the first time in four years, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus was invited to the Oval Office to talk about immigration and other issues facing Latino communities in our home states,” she said.
“I will continue fighting to ensure that our economy works for the immigrant workers who keep it running every day and that we finally deliver a pathway to citizenship to the millions of immigrants who already call this country home,” she added.