US President Biden seeks comprehensive immigration reform in State of the Union address

PTI, Feb 8, 2023, 9:37 AM IST

President Joe Biden has urged the US Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform, a move which would provide a path to citizenship to not only illegal immigrants but also those who entered the country legally, like those on H-1B visas.

In the 118th Congress, where the Opposition Republicans enjoy a majority in the House of Representatives, such an ask might not be an easy one.

Biden acknowledged it indirectly though.

“If you won’t pass my comprehensive immigration reform, at least pass my plan to provide the equipment and officers to secure the border,” Biden said in his second State of the Union Address before a Joint Session of the US Congress.

“And a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, and essential workers. Here in the people’s House, it’s our duty to protect all the people’s rights and freedoms,” said the president amidst applause from the Democratic lawmakers of the Congress.

Dreamers are undocumented immigrants who enter the US as children with parents. Millions of illegal immigrants are looking for a pathway to citizenship, and so do a large number of those who entered the country legally with visas like H-1B and are having years waiting for a Green Card.

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to immigrants to the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently.

In his address that lasted for more than 75 minutes, Biden urged Congress to come together on immigration and make immigration a bipartisan issue like it was before.

“We now have a record number of personnel working to secure the border, arresting 8,000 human smugglers and seizing over 23,000 pounds of fentanyl in just the last several months,” he said.

“Since we launched our new border plan last month, unlawful migration from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela has come down 97 per cent. But America’s border problems won’t be fixed until Congress acts,” Biden said.

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