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Biden spending plan ‘not good enough’ on immigration policy

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A man looks across the river at shipping containers lining the area near the Rio Grande river on November 19, 2021 in Eagle Pass, Texas. (Photo by AFP)

US immigration rights advocates have criticized President Joe Biden’s $1.75-trillion domestic spending plan for not including a solution to the plight of asylum-seekers and refugees in the United States. 

There are no provisions in the legislation that would provide a path to citizenship to an estimated 11 million undocumented asylum seekers.

“It’s not good enough,” said immigration policy expert Hadi Sedigh.

Al Jazeera quoted Sedigh from the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) advocacy group as saying on Saturday that Biden's immigration policy is insufficient.

“Ultimately, immigrants need to thrive and participate in society and become full members of the communities they contribute to every day,” he said. “This package clearly does not provide that. This is a situation that is guaranteed to end in 2031 without a clear next step for the millions of individuals participating in this situation.”

Congress lawmakers approved a provision in the Build Back Better Act (BBB) ​​that would “parole” undocumented migrants, he said.

The BBB is a temporary position that would give asylum seekers temporary work permits in the United States but falls to provide them with a path to US citizenship.

Immigration advocates point out that the legislation fails to deliver what Democrats, including Biden, had promised to give on the campaign trail.

Immigrants' rights advocacy groups have repeatedly voiced concern that Biden is more concerned with arrests and deportation of refugees than the rights of the asylum seekers.

"That absolutely contradicts what the Biden administration said they were going to do," said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles, California.

House representatives including Jesus Garcia, Lou Correa, Adriano Espaillat, Grace Meng and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called on Senate leaders to reinstate a pathway to citizenship in the spending bill. ​

“The House version of the BBB Act limits relief for certain undocumented individuals to a five-year parole status, yet another form of temporary reprieve,” they wrote in an open letter. “We now write to urge you and the rest of our colleagues in the Senate to reinstate a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers, and essential workers in the Senate’s version of the reconciliation bill.”

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