In 2007, when President George W. Bush sought to create a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States, his push ended with a whimper, a Hail Mary pass by an unpopular second-term president whose approval ratings were already on the verge of collapse.
Nearly 15 years later, President Joe Biden is wagering that the increasingly apparent unviability of the current system—as well as the disastrous immigration policies of his predecessor—may make comprehensive immigration reform a palpable possibility for the first time in decades. On Thursday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA) are set to introduce the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, Biden’s wide-ranging bill that would provide millions of undocumented people the ability to earn U.S. citizenship.
“The American people know that our immigration system is not working the way that it should,” a Biden administration official told reporters on a briefing call ahead of the bill’s introduction. “The legislation is a common-sense approach to solving the immigration challenges that we’re facing… We’re taking a new and more comprehensive approach, whereas the prior administration was solely focused on the wall and did nothing to address the root.”