Last month, House Democrats passed a $1.75 trillion social spending bill, also known as the “Build Back Better” bill that includes policies addressing climate change, healthcare, child and family benefits, education, affordable housing, immigration and more. Although the bill includes historic immigration provisions, they are considered a much reduced version of what some advocates originally hoped for. Here’s what to know:
What immigration provisions are included in the Build Back Better Bill?
If the Senate passes the same immigration provisions as the House, these provisions would protect millions from deportation by providing work authorization of up to 10 years to undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. since before January 1, 2011. The process entails an initial five years of “parole” status, with the opportunity to extend for another five years thereafter.
The bill as it is now, also includes visa recapture, which would recover hundreds of thousands of unused visa numbers to be allocated to individuals and families currently waiting in green card backlogs.
Although these provisions fall short of a direct pathway to citizenship, those eligible may be able to travel outside of the country and receive other federal benefits.
Who benefits from this?
An estimated 6.5 million non-citizens stand to benefit from the parole process. According to the Congressional Budget Office, three million of those are immediate relatives of adult U.S. citizens.
By mitigating the harm of green card backlogs, the BBB Bill would help immigrants living in the U.S. legally, including diversity visa lottery winners, to expedite the application process.
What is the status of these provisions?
The House of Representatives has passed its version of the Build Back Better bill including the immigration provisions explained in this article. The Senate must now approve the bill. It will be an uphill battle as Senate Democrats attempt to use the reconciliation process to get the Build Back Better Bill passed into law, as it would require all of the votes of the 50-member Democrats in the Caucus, plus the tie breaking vote of the Vice President. Any changes to the bill in the Senate will require the bill to be sent back to the House for another vote.