SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Just shy of a month in the Oval Office and President Joe Biden is setting a path forward for sweeping immigration reform.
"President Biden, a big part of his coalition was to get Latino votes. Sort of a broad, multi-racial coalition. So it doesn’t surprise me that he’s put a lot of emphasis rolling out his immigration package," said University of New Haven political scientist Dr. Chris Haynes.
The "U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021" would create an eight-year path to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country before Jan. 1.
Farmworkers and DACA recipients immediately would get green cards. There would be increased funding for immigration judges and staff to help alleviate case backlogs. And higher per-country visa caps for family members. The term "alien" would be replaced with "non-citizen."
"One might see this not as the final bill that needs to be voted on, but rather the first part of an on-going negotiation that will lead to the final bill," said Professor Deep Gulasekaram, a Santa Clara University immigration law expert.
The Biden bill is backed by democrats, guaranteeing passage in the House. The Senate is more complicated with democrats needing 10 republicans to join the cause and get to the 60 vote threshold. And if not, they face a likely GOP filibuster.
"…Which makes a bill as gargantuan, as comprehensive, as this one more and more difficult to actually get through," said Haynes.
Still, those on the front lines of the immigration fight said they’re cautiously optimistic their end-goal is within reach.
South Bay immigration attorney Ron Cabanayan said DACA protections only go so far.
"They are tired of waiting in the shadows and looking over their shoulders wondering if at some point if they’re going to be a target for deportation," he said.
Relief may come in legislative stages, instead of one bill. Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan tweeted. "Republicans shouldn’t support any immigration reform bill that: Does not secure the boarder. Does not permanently end catch and release. Does not end incentives for illegal immigration."