Biden immigration plan not bold enough for some undocumented residents in the South Bay

ByMatt Boone KGO logo
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Biden immigration plan not enough for some undocumented residents
A group of pro-immigration advocates gathered outside San Jose City Hall on Wednesday. They're disappointed with President Joe Biden's proposed immigration bill.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A group of pro-immigration advocates gathered outside San Jose City Hall on Wednesday, disappointed in President Joe Biden's immigration bill proposal.

"They promised immigration reform before and nothing happened," said Gabriel Manrique, an undocumented San Jose resident, referring to former President Barak Obama's efforts to overhaul immigration.

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Manrique is also an organizer with the nonprofit Latinos United for a New America.

"I know some people that are happy this was announced, but there is a long fight ahead," Manrique added.

The bill proposed by the Biden administration would create a path to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented people.

It would allow for a green card application after five years and a shot at citizenship after eight years. Applications for a green card would be immediate for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), residents with Temporary Protective Status or for essential workers like farmworkers. After three years, they could then apply for citizenship.

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That plan still did not go far enough for Manrique, who has been in the U.S. since 1990.

"We're hoping we don't have to wait five years," said Manrique as he and members of the crowd chanted "papeles para todos" or "papers for all."

"It's a very sweeping departure from the policy we've seen from the Trump Administration over the past four years," said Muzaffar Chishti, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.

"It's a bold attempt at reframing immigration policy, and the fact that it was done on day one was the right signal to send," added Chishti.

Chishti doesn't see the bill becoming more progressive. Rather, he expects the bill may be picked apart and passed bit by bit.

"Even though this may be aspirational, we can aspire to put placeholders," predicted Chishti. "Then we can see when the opportunity presents for lawmakers to pick pieces and then see what is possible in the Senate and House."