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Dozens of House Democrats this week introduced legislation that would grant amnesty to illegal immigrants who have been in the country for more than seven years — reviving a failed attempt from last year.
The “Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929,” is sponsored by 46 lawmakers and would update a registry in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
That registry allows the Homeland Security Secretary to “register” illegal immigrants for permanent status if they have been in the country since before a certain date. That date was last updated to Jan. 1 1972 during the Reagan administration.
The latest Democratic bill would update the registry, but instead of setting a firm date would make the eligibility “rolling,” meaning that illegal immigrants who have been in the country for seven years would be eligible for legalization — and eventual citizenship.
The main sponsors of the bill are Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.,, Norma Torres, D-Calif., Grace Meng, D-NY, Lou Correa, D-Calif., Adriano Espaillat, D-NY,, and Jesús “Chuy” García, D-Ill. It has also been backed by a slew of immigration rights organizations and other liberal groups.
“For decades, immigrants who contribute significantly to our communities and our economy, have been relegated to a legal limbo,” Lofgren said in a statement. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to provide these immigrants with the stability and certainty they and their families deserve. Updating this historically bipartisan provision to provide lawful permanent resident status to immigrants who have been a part of our communities for years will make our immigration system fairer and our country stronger.”
Rep. Garcia, meanwhile, estimated that it would give a legal pathway to a massive eight million illegal immigrants.
“Today there is renewed hope for millions of immigrants who have lived in our country, formed families, bought homes, and have been part of their communities, sometimes for decades,” he said. “This bill provides an opportunity to give peace of mind and a legal path for approximately 8 million immigrants.
Democrats had included a provision to update the registry last year, when Democrats were proposing amnesty provisions that could potentially be included in a budget reconciliation bill. Such a bill would only need 50 votes in the Senate and therefore not require any Republican support if all Democrats were united.
However, the “Plan B,” which would have updated the registry to allow illegal immigrants in the country before 2010 to be legalized, was rejected by the parliamentarian — and the budget reconciliation proposal as a whole was torpedoed when Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he wouldn’t support it.
Republicans, including lawmakers who are typically open to negotiation on immigration matters, have repeatedly ruled out support for amnesty provisions unless there is progress with solving the enormous migrant crisis that has overwhelmed the southern border.
There were more than 209,000 migrant encounters in June alone, 79,652 of whom were released into the United States. There have been 1,746,119 total encounters at the southern border the current fiscal year — already eclipsing last fiscal year’s historic numbers.
Top Biden administration officials have backed calls for pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this week claimed the border is “secure” and appeared to push for lawmakers to pass legislation that would include some form of amnesty.
“I have said to a number of legislators who expressed to me that we need to address the challenge at the border before they pass legislation and I take issue with the math of holding the solution hostage until the problem is resolved,” he said.