Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 the comprehensive immigration reform proposal sent to Congress by President Joe Biden, on Feb. 18.
The legislation was announced by the White House on the president’s first day in office with a series of immigration executive actions and was supported by the AAMC [see Washington Highlights, Jan. 21].
In a Jan. 21 statement, AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, said, “The executive actions and legislation help to recognize the role that health professionals from other countries play in safeguarding our nation’s health and well-being and increasing the diversity of the nation’s health care and scientific workforce.”
Of importance to academic medicine, the bill would:
- Allow “Dreamers,” Temporary Protected Status holders, and other individuals to apply for green cards and eventually citizenship.
- Exempt individuals with a doctoral degree in a field involving science, technology, engineering, or mathematics from an accredited United States institution of higher education from the numerical caps on visas.
- Clear the employment-based immigrant visa backlog and alleviate lengthy wait times for individuals by eliminating employment-based per-country limits.
- Exempt students qualified to pursue a full course of study at a U.S. institution of higher education from demonstrating “nonimmigrant intent.”
While the U.S. Citizenship Act outlines Democratic priorities, immigration reform is expected to move as a series of smaller bills, such as the bipartisan Dream Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship for certain individuals who arrived in the United States before the age of 18, including current recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The American Promise and Dream Act was reintroduced on Feb. 4 by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and has been endorsed by the AAMC and numerous other national health organizations in previous sessions of Congress [see Washington Highlights, July 12, 2019].