The White House on Tuesday reaffirmed that President Joe Biden backs a controversial plan to create a pathway to citizenship for at least 11 million illegal immigrants -- as the White House and congressional Democrats are expected to formally unveil a sweeping immigration bill as soon as this week.
"There certainly is part of the proposal that the president outlined and proposed on Day One that is an earned pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
A pathway to citizenship for all illegal immigrants in the country has long been a top item on liberal wishlists, and Biden promised such a plan if elected. Estimates generally put the illegal immigrant population at about 11 million, although others suggest that could be higher.
The proposal, sketched out by the administration on Inauguration Day, would include an 8-year path to citizenship for illegal immigrants -- a path that includes a five year path to a green card and a three-year path to citizenship after background checks and other steps.
It would also give farmworkers, along with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immediate green card eligibility. They would then be eligible for citizenship three years later.
"He also is somebody who believes in the rights of the DACA recipients to be in the country," Psaki said of Biden, noting that the DACA executive order occurred when he was vice president.
The bill, which also includes provisions to stem the flow of migration by addressing root causes of migration from south of the border, as well as some border security measures, faces an uncertain path to becoming law -- particularly in the Senate, where it would need 10 Republican votes.
Republicans in that chamber have slammed the bill, with Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell calling it a "massive proposal for blanket amnesty that would gut enforcement of American laws while creating huge new incentives for people to rush here illegally at the same time."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has suggested a more limited bill that focuses on DACA recipients, proposing it with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and describing it as "a starting point for us to find bipartisan breakthroughs providing relief to the Dreamers and also repairing a broken immigration system.
Psaki told reporters that the comprehensive bill would be presented soon "but Congress will have to work through what it looks like moving forward, and what components will be included here and what components could be dealt with separately."