The Roadmap to Freedom, a Reform Bill Proposed by Rep. Jayapal

President Biden is not the only one with an immigration plan for the United States in 2021. Representative PramilaJayapal (D-WA) introduced a resolution on December 11, 2020 joined by Reps. Jesus Garcia (D-IL), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) titled the Roadmap to Freedom. The Roadmap is a progressive vision for comprehensive immigration reform, and in some ways may pose a threat to congressional cooperation with the Biden administration’s own immigration plans.

In order for some of Mr. Biden’s more ambitious proposals to work, such as increasing the number of visas available and creating a new visa to attract talent to rural communities, Congress must amend the Immigration and Nationality Act. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have signaled a willingness to cooperate with Mr. Biden on immigration.  More conservative elements of the Republican Party, such as Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), have stated that “there is no common-ground between conservative Republicans & [Joe Biden] on immigration.” Garnering support from both hardline Republicans as well as progressive Democrats will be a Herculean task for the incoming president, and it may stymie his ultimate goal of amending the Act to make his plan permanent.

The Roadmap is mostly written with human rights in mind, particularly for asylum seekers, victims of crime, and undocumented immigrants. However, it contains several provisions that would impact employment immigration and foreign nationals working in the United States. Examples include:

  • Reducing the backlogged citizenship process;
  • Providing legal defense to immigrants that are denied admission;
  • “Establishing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) as a customer-service oriented agency that is properly resourced . . . protecting immigrants’ rights and data privacy; and maintaining affordable application fees;” and
  • Ensuring that all people who are recruited to meet verifiable labor market needs are able to change employers, bring and live with their families, and earn a roadmap to citizenship.

The resolution contains numerous controversial sections that indicate at least a portion of Democratic representatives will be expecting even more from President Biden with regard to immigration, as well as from their more moderate colleagues in the House.