The Trump administration passed more than 400 executive orders to curb immigration and punish the undocumented. But those involved with the legislation insist they're committed to a single legislative push for now.
Democrats will on Thursday formally introduce President Joe Biden's sweeping immigration bill in Congress, a measure that would provide a path to United States citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, but the proposal faces long odds to passage.
The bill would immediately provide green cards to farm workers, those with temporary protected status and young people who arrived in the USA illegally as children.
'The vast majority of the people, those 11 million undocumented, they're not Hispanics; they're people who came on a visa - who was able to buy a ticket to get in a plane, and didn't go home, ' the president said. Anyone who entered the country illegally after that date would not qualify.
The bill provides funding for more immigration judges and support staff to help with the backlog of asylum seekers.
- Grants would be made available to local educational agencies to provide services to unaccompanied migrant children.
It tries to prevent people from taking the risky journey north by setting up refugee processing centers in Central America.
The bill would expand transnational anti-drug task forces in Central America and enhances technology at the border.
"This is not a bipartisan bill", the official told reporters in previewing the legislation.
"We feel like the law is already there, no need to have added enforcement mechanisms", said one senior administration official who spoke with ABC News on the condition of anonymity to discuss plans for the proposal.
Senior administration officials who promoted the bill late Wednesday repeatedly declined to say whether they are considering using the reconciliation process to pass citizenship.
Undocumented immigrants would also no longer face a three to 10-year ban from the United States for leaving and attempting to reenter the country.
The bill would greatly increase both family-based and employment-based legal immigration and allow certain previously deported immigrants to apply to return for humanitarian reasons.
Where he called for ending the diversity lottery that gives away green cards by random chance, the Biden plan increases the number from 55,000 to 80,000. Where his predecessor often cast immigrants as criminals, Biden's White House calls them "neighbors, colleagues, parishioners, community leaders, friends, and loved ones". It's expected to be introduced by two Democrats, Sen.
A dozen Democratic lawmakers, including lead sponsors California Rep. Linda Sanchez and New Jersey Sen. "They all need to be addressed".
Unveiling an ambitious legislative proposal and actually achieving it are two very different things. Biden had a front-row seat to former President Barack Obama's failure to deliver lasting change to the immigration system.
Several questions remain, including whether the legislation will become watered-down over negotiations with Republicans and whether the package will be broken into parts. His administration and congressional Democrats are under pressure from immigration advocates to act quickly to move the bill, but it's unclear how quickly they will pursue passage.
Comprehensive immigration reform has struggled to gain traction in Congress for decades.