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Kamala Harris Outlines Immigration Plan Providing Path Toward Citizenship for DACA Recipients

On Tuesday, Vice President Elect Kamala Harris hinted at some major immigration policies and changes that can be expected after she and incoming President Joe Biden take office next week. In an interview with Univision’s Ilia Calderón, Harris spoke on the immigration reform bill she and Biden intend to introduce during their administration. Harris outlined a plan that includes automatically granting green cards to immigrants who are protected by Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policies; decreasing the amount of time necessary to become a U.S. citizen to eight years from 13 years and adding immigration judges to address court backlogs.

“It’s a smarter and much more humane way of approaching immigration,” Harris said. “It will be about creating a pathway for people to earn citizenship.” Harris also stated that the administration plans to “expand protections for Dreamers and DACA recipients” and noted that individuals seeking citizenship would be given a more concise timeline from start to finish.

Harris’ comments on the new administration’s immigration reform plans were in response to a question regarding President Trump’s visit to the border town of Alamo, Mexico on Tuesday during his first public appearance since the Capitol siege a week ago. The visit was ostensibly an opportunity to pat himself on the back for the partial completion of the border wall that was a defining element of his 2016 presidential campaign and the implementation of his often controversial immigration policies. “This is a president who came into power saying he was going to build a wall and his whole theme had been about building a wall, building barriers between people as opposed to bridges between people in our country,” she said, seeming to brush off any real significance to Trump’s visit.

Instead of shifting the focus to Trump’s divisive policies, Harris then deftly outlined Biden’s plans and went on to explain, “We are going to acknowledge and thank the over two hundred thousand Dreamers who have been essential workers during the COVID pandemic. We are going to make sure that people receive vaccinations regardless of their immigration status. We are going to put back in place the family management system and not divide families and separate families at the border. We’re going to ensure that children who arrive at the border have legal counsel, legal representation so we can make sure they receive due process and they’re treated fairly.”

Harris’ statement came just a day ahead of a  press conference scheduled by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center that is set to occur in front of Biden’s transition headquarters in Delaware. The group along with other immigration activist organizations including RAICES and Movimiento Cosecha, are actively urging the Biden administration to follow through on campaign promises regarding immigration reform and have requested an audience with Biden. Movimiento Cosecha, has also hung banners in five states including above the New York Public Library in Manhattan, calling for the Biden-Harris administration to abolish ICE and act on progressive immigration reform immediately.