The U.S. House of Representatives last month passed the “Build Back Better” social spending bill. This bill may be the last chance to achieve reform to the nation’s immigration system before the 2022 midterm election.
This bill if passed by the Senate would offer protection from deportation for millions of immigrants for the first time in 35 years. The centerpiece of the bill’s immigration provision gives qualified immigrants who have lived in the U.S. without status since January 2011 the chance to apply for temporary works permits and protection from deportation under a process called “parole.” The bill would also help immigrants living in the country legally but who are stuck in years-long green card backlogs, and it would beef up the cash-strapped federal U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
The bill authorizes the Department of Homeland to temporarily provide a legal status known as “parole” to any noncitizen in the United States (including both illegal immigrants and legal temporary workers and their families). Applicants must only prove that they have “continuously resided” in the United States since before January 1, 2011. Estimates suggest that more than 6 million undocumented immigrants could qualify. DHS would have to start accepting applications 180 days after the date of enactment. Parolees under this program would receive legal status and work authorization for the duration of the program. They would also be allowed to apply for state driver’s licenses. Anyone who is married to a U.S. citizen could immediately adjust to legal permanent residence after receiving parole because being “paroled” removes the illegal entry bar to adjusting to permanent residence. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 3 million would gain permanent residence after receiving parole.
The bill also prevents “green cards” from being wasted in the future. The bill would expedite a pathway to green cards through a visa recapture program. Finally, the bill would allocate funds to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to alleviate the green cards application backlog and the temporary work protections work permits.
While this legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate, which is expected to take up the legislation this month, the Democrats in the Senate remain committed to passing immigration reform. If you believe that you could be helped by this legislation, please feel to contact the attorneys at Minsky, McCormick and Hallagan, P.C. for further information or to help with your current case.