Senate Democrats urge Biden to 'streamline pathways' for illegal immigrants to become citizens

Their letter comes as a record number of illegal immigrants have entered the U.S. under Biden.

Published: March 31, 2024 2:24pm

Senate Democrats are urging President Joe Biden "to streamline pathways" for illegal immigrants to obtain lawful status, arguing that if former President Donald Trump is reelected, he could start mass deportations.

"We urge your Administration to take all available actions to streamline pathways to lawful status for undocumented immigrants, providing certainty to the American businesses, communities, and families who rely on them," 18 Senate Democrats and one independent senator, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, wrote last week in a letter to Biden.

The senators highlighted the tax contributions of illegal immigrants

They said that in 2019, illegal immigrants paid an estimated $9.7 billion in federal and state taxes and contributed more than $11 billion to social security. They also said that more than 1.1 million U.S. citizens are married to an illegal immigrant and about 4.9 million U.S. citizen children have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant.

This means illegal immigrants accounted for more than 1% of all social security contributions in 2019, per government data. However, the study cited by the lawmakers only included illegal immigrants from Mexico. This also means that illegal immigrants accounted for less than 0.08% of all state and federal taxes in 2019, which was about $13 trillion overall, according to data from the Census Bureau and the nonprofit Tax Foundation.

While putting the tax contributions in the spotlight, the senators also said that a pathway to citizenship would require such persons to pay taxes. 

"Alternatively, streamlining pathways for undocumented immigrants with no criminal history and deep ties to the United States to obtain parole or a lawful immigration status would provide stability to their families, require them to pay taxes, and to check in with the U.S. government regularly," the senators said.

The Democrats warned the president of potential dire consequences for illegal immigrants if he loses to former President Donald Trump this fall.

"Deporting all such individuals—as former President Donald Trump has threatened to do if Reelected — would devastate the American economy and destroy American families," the senators said.  

Illegal immigrants married to U.S. citizens can apply for parole, but the Democrats also said the immigration system "includes many categorical bars that prevent spouses from obtaining status," so they are urging the administration to "create a process to allow undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens to seek parole, on a case-by-case basis."

Their letter comes as a record number of illegal immigrants have entered the U.S. under Biden.

In addition to Sanders, signatories on the letter include Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Ill.; Michael Bennett, Colo.; Alex Padilla, Calif.; Catherine Cortez Masto, Nev.; Ben Ray Luján N.M.; Bob Menendez N.J.; Cory Booker N.J.; Laphonza Butler, Calif.; Ben Cardin, Md.; Tammy Duckworth, Ill.; John Fetterman, Pa.; Mazie Hirono, Hawaii; Ed Markey, Mass.; Jeff Merkley, Ore.; Jacky Rosen, Nev.; Chris Van Hollen, Md.; Raphael Warnock, Ga.; and Ron Wyden, Ore.


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