As Democratic lawmakers unveiled their legislative proposal on Thursday, they framed it as a deliberate rejection of the Trump administration’s approach. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a chief sponsor of the bill, said that by sending Biden to the White House, Americans had effectively tasked Congress with “fixing our immigration system, which is a cornerstone of Trump’s hateful horror show.”
The bill would pave a pathway to citizenship for nearly all the undocumented immigrants living in the United States, increase legal immigration, and speed up consideration of asylum seekers. It would also take steps to secure the country’s borders and ports of entry, while investing $4 billion in the economies of Central American countries to lessen the incentive for emigration. And it would strike the word “alien” from federal law in favor of “noncitizen.”
To say that this represents a break with past approaches to immigration reform would be an understatement. The last time Congress passed major reform was in 1986, when President Ronald Reagan signed a law making it illegal for employers to hire immigrants without papers.
President George W. Bush later put a center-right plan for comprehensive reform at the heart of his appeal to Hispanic voters. He won 44 percent of the Latino vote in the 2004 election, according to exit polls — exceptionally high for a Republican candidate — but reform never passed.
The New Washington