U.S. Rep. Lawrence Joins Bicameral Colleagues in Introducing U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 to Overhaul American Immigration System
Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Representative Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14) joined her colleagues in the House and Senate to introduce the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, President Biden’s bold, inclusive, and humane framework for the future of the United States immigration system.
“Our immigration system is broken and it’s far past time we fixed it. After years of advocacy and calls for change, I’m honored to join my colleagues today in introducing this comprehensive immigration reform bill,” said Rep. Lawrence. “The U.S. Citizenship Act will reunite and keep families together, provide a pathway to citizenship for our DREAMers, and restore dignity, humanity, and compassion to our immigration system. Immigrants from all over the world come to our country to build a better life. They’re our neighbors, leaders, frontline workers, entrepreneurs, and members of every single part of our community. I look forward to passing this bill and ensuring every person has the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”
The legislation would provide millions of hardworking, undocumented immigrants with a pathway to earned citizenship, including Dreamers, Temporary Protective Status (TPS) recipients, and essential workers who have made enormous sacrifices during the pandemic; prioritizes family reunification; and bolsters the country’s long-term economic growth. The bill would also equip the country with the necessary resources to responsibly manage the border with smart and effective infrastructure investments, address the root causes of migration that force people to leave Central America, and restore the United States’ commitment to human rights.
“I am deeply proud to introduce the U.S. Citizenship Act in the House of Representative today, a vision that provides long-overdue permanent protections, and restores humanity and American values to our immigration system,” said Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38). “I am the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico, this is personal to me. I have dedicated my career to building an immigration system that lets people live without fear, and a system that gives immigrants – like my parents – who sought a better life and contribute to our nation a fair opportunity to thrive. After all, immigration reform isn’t just about policy changes and politics-as-usual, it’s about people: our loved ones, friends, and neighbors who have been living in our communities and contributing to our country for decades. They deserve real relief. With President Biden’s leadership and vision, Democratic majorities in both Chambers, and the support of the majority of Americans: this is our moment to finally deliver big, bold, and inclusive immigration reform that our nation and its people deserve.”
“As the son of Cuban immigrants who fled an oppressive regime for a better life in the United States, I have dedicated much of my career in Congress, both in the House and the Senate, fighting for the dignity of immigrant families in New Jersey and all across America. Immigrants contribute greatly to our country and society; they own businesses, pay taxes and teach our children, they are our coworkers, neighbors and friends,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). “We have an historic opportunity to finally enact bold immigration reform that leaves no one behind, addresses root causes of migration, and safeguards our country’s national security. We have a moral and economic imperative to get this done once and for all.”
The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 establishes a moral and economic imperative and a vision of immigration reform that is expansive and inclusive:
- Creates an earned roadmap to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, providing Dreamers, TPS holders, and some farmworkers with an expedited three-year path to citizenship, and giving all other undocumented immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes with an eight-year path to citizenship without fear of deportation.
- Reforms family-based immigration system to keep families together by recapturing visas from previous years to clear backlogs, including spouses and children of green card holders as immediate family members, and increasing per-country caps for family-based immigration. It also eliminates discrimination facing LGBTQ+ families, provides protections for orphans, widows and children, allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the U.S. on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards to become available.
- Grows our economy by making changes to the employment-based immigration system, eliminating per-country caps, making it easier for STEM advanced degree holders from U.S. universities to stay, improving access to green cards for workers in lower-wage industries, and giving dependents of H-1B holders work authorization, and preventing children of H-1B holders from aging out of the system. The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.
- Increases fundings for immigrant integration initiatives and supports state and local governments, NGOs, and other community organizations that conduct inclusion programs, provide English language assistance, and make available naturalization resources to immigrant communities.
- Protects workers from exploitation and improves the employment verification process by requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor to establish a commission involving labor, employer, and civil rights organizations to help improve the employment verification process and granting workers who suffer serious labor violations greater access to U visa relief.
- Supports asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations by eliminating the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims, reducing asylum application backlogs, increasing protections for U visa, T visa, and VAWA applicants, including by raising the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000.
Click here for the bill text of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 in the House.