Democrats at the federal level are looking to overhaul U.S. immigration policies. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced legislation Thursday that would create a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, including nearly a half million in New Jersey.
In his U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 Menendez proposes two tracks — one for residents known as “Dreamers,” those with Temporary Protected Status and farmworkers. All of these could immediately apply for green cards and then citizenship three years later. Other immigrants without legal status would become eligible to apply for a green card after five years and for citizenship in another three years if they pass background checks and pay taxes.
The bill has support from Democrats in both the Senate and House but Menendez has been here before. In 2013, he co-sponsored the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” legislation, which passed in the Senate but failed to get a vote in the House. There’s even less GOP support this time around but renewed energy on the part of the legislation’s supporters, who take hope from President Joe Biden’s presence in office.