By: Arjun Singh, Daily Caller News Foundation
A bipartisan group of House members on Tuesday introduced an immigration reform bill that contains several measures, including a plan to grant a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
The bill, known as the Dignity Act of 2023 was announced on Tuesday by Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas, representing the El Paso area, and Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida, who represents part of the Miami area. It would direct more resources to border security while granting legal status to undocumented immigrants present in the United States, according to a summary of the bill.
The bill’s draft text also includes provisions to mandate that employers use the E-Verify system when hiring workers while also slashing visa wait times and backlogs, which can take decades. Under the bill, there would be a maximum backlog of 10 years to obtain lawful permanent residence, while the annual per-country cap on green cards would be raised to 15%.
“I have seen the toll our broken immigration system has…and the need for a realistic, common-sense compromise could not be more urgent,” said Escobar at the announcement. Echoing her, Salazar said that “Our broken immigration system is frustrating Americans, causing people to suffer, and fracturing our country — economically, morally, socially, and politically. A solution is long overdue.”
Escobar and Salazar were joined by five colleagues, including Republican Rep. Mike Lawler of New York, for the announcement.
Some of the bill’s provisions have been opposed by Republicans and Democrats in the past. It would grant more resources to ICE, even as several Democrats have led calls to “Abolish ICE,” while also granting a pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrants, which has been opposed by many Republicans.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said that he would never support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, according to Fox News. Meanwhile, members of the House Freedom Caucus have also previously opposed any grant of legal status to undocumented immigrants, who they argue should be deported for violating U.S. immigration laws.
On asylum petitions, which have been filed by most migrants crossing the southern border illegally, the bill would have processing centers constructed in Latin American countries to “pre-screen” applicants for asylum, with those having a prima facie basis for a claim being allowed to travel to the U.S. while their claim is adjudicated. The bill’s summary does not specify what would happen to asylum seekers who cross the U.S. border illegally regardless of such provisions and makes no mention of deportation.
The bill’s summary, however, specifically notes that “no funding” will be provided to construct a border wall championed previously by former President Donald Trump, which conservatives in the House and Senate have supported. Funding for the wall was provided for in the Secure the Border Act, passed by House Republicans earlier in May without any Democratic support.
It remains unclear whether other congressional Republicans, who hold a majority in the House, will back the bill. Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a close ally of President Joe Biden, has said that he will push for the bill’s passage in the Senate.
Escobar, Salazar, McCarthy and the White House did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.