Originally Published in USA Today
Matthew Brown - March 22, 2021
After years of sharp drawdowns in the number of immigrants allowed pathways to legal status in the U.S., President Joe Biden is projected to greatly expand the number of immigrants allowed in the country, an analysis by Pew Research Center finds.
The research, which includes findings on a range of programs offering legal status to immigrants, observes that the administration's proposals and recent actions are expected to ramp up the country's admissions of refugees, expand the number of visas for those seeking legal residency and offer legal status to millions of undocumented people already living in the country.
The analysis comes weeks after congressional Democrats and the White House unveiled a sweeping immigration bill that would overhaul the nation's immigration system. The prospects of a successful deal are complicated by the razor-thin margins Democrats hold in both chambers. In the Senate, the legislative filibuster also presents a challenge for any package that cannot garner at least 10 Republicans, further imperiling any deal.
But while most of the proposed changes require legislative buy-in, other changes are projected to have swift impacts as Biden looks to counteract many of the efforts of the Trump administration.
The White House alsofaces bipartisan criticism for its handling of the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, where a surge in the number of unaccompanied migrant children has overwhelmed federal facilities and processing centers. The situation, described as a crisis by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, threatens to further imperil Biden's wider ambitions on immigration.
Several proposals would expand immigrant access to citizenship
In one of the most immediate ways Biden is set to expand immigration, the administration plans to expedite legal resident access to the country. The Pew study found in 2019 that 69% of people received lawful permanent residence because of ties to family members already in the United States. The Biden administration proposes to increase that number by expediting processing systems and clearing backlogs of family members who have seen their applications remain in limbo for years.