Democrats will propose a change to the law to give residence to some 8 million undocumented immigrants

A group of Democratic representatives presents this Thursday to the plenary again a bill to modify the so-called Registry Law, an old immigration legal resource that for now allows certain undocumented immigrants in the United States before January 1, 1972 apply for legal permanent residence.

The new initiative does not seek, as has been attempted on other occasions, to determine a new date for registration of residence in the country, but rather to establish that undocumented immigrants who have been unauthorized for at least 7 years have no criminal record and are not inadmissible. to remain in the country, qualify to process the green card (green card).

It is estimated that if the plan is approved, some 8 million undocumented would qualify to regularize their stays.

The plan, which It also opens a path to citizenship for those who benefit from adjustment of status five years after receiving residency, will be presented this Thursday (March 9) by Democratic representatives Zoe Lofgren (California9, Norma Torres (California), Lou Correa (California), Grace Meng (New York), Adriano Espaillat (New York) and Jesús “Chuy” García (Illinopis).

why do they do it

“For decades, immigrants who contribute significantly to our communities and our economy have been relegated to legal limbo,” said Lofgren, a senior member of the House Subcommittee on Integrity, Security and Immigration Enforcement and a former attorney. of immigration.

“While the extreme MAGA Republicans make dozens of trips to the border and perform other political stunts, my colleagues and I are once again focusing on immigration action by reintroducing this common sense registration legislation that is merely an update. of the law that was first implemented in 1929,” he added.

Activists who support the initiative said that It is time to modify the Registry law “It is time for one of the promises that President Joe Biden made to our community during his campaign to be fulfilled,” Jorge-Mario Cabrera, communications director of the Coalition for Human Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) told Univision News. .

“While House Republicans continue to fabricate a false border anti-immigrant narrative and spread fear-mongering rhetoric, others in Congress seek to present practical solutions and recognize immigrants as the contributing force they represent to our nation,” said Angélica Salas, executive director of the organization.

The last try

In July 2022 and after repeated failures to include the proposal in the budget debate that was ultimately rejected by the main Senate adviser, the parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, a group of Democratic representatives prepared for weeks to present a project similar to the one now: change the date of the Registration Law.

But to become a reality, the Democratic caucus of the House of Representatives not only had to approve it (they had the votes to do it), but also to convince the Senate where Democrats and Republicans had 50 votes each, 60 were required and not all Democrats agreed. agree with the initiative.

The Republicans, for their part, had warned that they would not support any type of immigration benefit until the government was able to end the crisis on the border with Mexico, a situation that worsened significantly in the following months.

On September 29, 2021, MacDonough told a panel of advisers that the change in the date of the Registry Act (at the time part of an immigration proposal dubbed Plan B), “our analysis of this issue is largely the same as the LPR (legal permanent residence) proposal” presented in the first instance and which was rejected 10 days before.

“While this proposed registration is not an entirely new immigration policy, it still differs from the text of PRWORA (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996) in that it is an adjustment of status through an amendment to the INA ( Immigration Law) and is not independent of the various government benefit programs,” he added.

The response added that “the change of status to LPR remains a lifetime change in circumstances whose value far outweighs its budgetary impact.” MacDonough also said on that occasion that the legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants proposed by the Democrats “would increase the deficit by some $131,000 million for at least a decade.”

“Hope Never Dies”

Faced with a difficult scenario, especially considering that the House of Representatives is now in the hands of the Republicans, Univision News asked CHIRLA if there were chances of success in this new attempt.

“Hope never dies,” Cabrera said. “But we know it won’t be easy. Today there is new passion, new blood in both chambers, and we have to make sure that the immigration dialogue continues. There are people who have been undocumented for more than 40 years in this country who do not have papers. We have to give them a legal solution.”

Congresswoman Torres said that “in the United States we depend on the work and efforts of immigrants, but our nation’s broken immigration system has failed these hardworking men and women. They deserve better and this landmark bill, by making a simple update to the Registration Act, would provide a path to permanent legal status and even citizenship for many.”

In turn, Congresswoman Meng said that “I am proud to once again stand with my colleagues in Congress in reintroducing legislation that would help end the legal limbo for approximately 8 million immigrants. They are the driving force in building our nation’s diversity, infrastructure and rich American culture.”

For his part, Correa said that “after 36 years of inaction and broken promises, it is time for this Congress to act and deliver meaningful immigration reform to the communities that need it most, and on which our country depends.”

“It’s no secret that immigrants built our nation, and those who came to the United States years ago in search of a better life and have put down roots here deserve a chance at permanent residency,” said Congressman Espaillat.

A 1972 law

A report by the American Immigration Council (AIC) states that the Registry Act “allows certain non-citizens who have lived in the United States for some time, but who are undocumented or present in the country under some type of temporary immigration status, ‘register’ to receive Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status”.

To qualify, the alien must demonstrate that he has been in the United States since at least January 1, 1972 or earlier, have good moral character, and have continuous residence since entry.

“No deportation orders, no voluntary departures, no crimes, no misdemeanors, nothing that makes them inadmissible,” warns Lilia Velásquez, an adjunct professor at the University of California San Diego Law School.

“I haven’t had a case like this for many years. It was used a lot with (Ronald) Reagan’s Amnesty and I haven’t seen it since. But it’s current,” he says.

“If they manage to approve it and modify the registration date (of entry into the country), it would be a beneficial solution for thousands of undocumented immigrants and people with deferred action or holders of Temporary Protection Status (TPS),” he adds.

The new plan does not include a specific date, but rather a minimum tenure time of seven years.

The current registration date, January 1, 1972, “was set in 1986,” explains the AIC. And he adds that “this date is now so far away that few people are eligible.”

However, he notes, “Congress has the power to advance the date again at any time, potentially allowing millions of non-citizens to become LPRs and ultimately US citizens.”

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