Prospects for a U.S. Legalization Program and the Unauthorized Immigrant Groups that Could Factor in the Debate
Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director of U.S. Immigration Policy Program, MPI; and former Commissioner, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
Jessica Bolter, Associate Policy Analyst, U.S. Immigration Policy Program, MPI
Kerri Talbot, former Chief Counsel for U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Deputy Director, Immigration Hub
C. Stewart Verdery, Jr., former General Counsel to Assistant Senate Majority Leader Don Nickles (R-OK); former Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, Border and Transportation Security Directorate, Department of Homeland Security; Founder and CEO, Monument Advocacy
Sixty percent of the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States have lived in the country for a decade or more, becoming an enduring part of its workforce, economy, and communities. While the resource requirements for deporting this entire group would be insurmountable, there has been sparse serious congressional action to provide any path to legalization for the last 20 years. Dogged by questions of who should be eligible for legalization and under what conditions as well as the political reactions these questions trigger, lawmakers have repeatedly hit an impasse, inevitably dooming the prospects for urgently needed broader immigration reform.
On day one of his administration, President Joe Biden called upon Congress to enact a sweeping proposal to give unauthorized immigrants a pathway to citizenship. How will Congress respond to this latest effort? Is it likely to garner bipartisan support?
This webinar marks the release of a report that takes stock of various legalization options, particularly amid growing calls to recognize the role immigrants deemed essential workers have played during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing upon MPI’s unique methodology to provide estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population and study their characteristics, the report examines the composition of the unauthorized population and offers important new data on various subgroups, including DREAMers and essential workers. Beyond unveiling the findings, the discussion features Republican and Democratic perspectives on possible legislative strategies surrounding legalization, the likelihood of achieving bipartisan support, and what has and has not changed in Congress since the last major effort at immigration reform in 2013.