Build Back Better. Illustration purposes only.
Shelle-Ann Simon

Shelle-Ann Simon

Texas: The future of Build Back Better immigration reform

New immigration reform made its way into the Senate through the Build Back Better act, but opposition from Texas senators could be a tough hurdle to overcome.

The effects of a new immigration reform would not go unnoticed in the state of Texas, the second with the highest number of immigrants in the country, only behind California. More than a million immigrants will be able to regularize their situation if Build Back Better, the bill promoted by the Democratic government and recently approved by the House of Representatives, passes the Senate instance.

But what do Texas senators think about the new immigration reform? An analysis of the political history and the recent statements of Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, senators for this state and both members of the Republican party, allows us to advance their negative vote for President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better project.

What is at stake in the new immigration reform?

The new immigration reform, introduced through the Build Back Better plan package of laws, aims to protect undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before January 2011 and have lived permanently in the country since then. If approved, more than 7 million people who are currently undocumented could apply for renewable work permits with a duration of 5 years. In this way, it is expected that the beneficiaries of this reform will regularize their immigration status and have 10 years of effective protection against deportation.

In addition, those who are eligible will be able to receive work permits and have the possibility to apply to travel abroad and even obtain driver’s licenses. This will not only improve the quality of life for millions but, in many cases, it will mean a chance of reuniting with their estranged families.

The Build Back Better act also proposes to revalidate more than 400,000 green cards approved by Congress but currently disused due to bureaucratic restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Build Back Better. Illustration purposes only.

What are the prospects for immigration reform in the Senate?

Since Ronald Reagan’s presidency in 1989, no such conciliatory measure has been adopted. At that time, almost 3 million immigrants benefited. Today, if the reform is approved, the Migration Policy Institute estimates that the total number of people reached will be more than 7 million.

Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough has twice previously rejected similar proposals from Democrats. Her position is that immigration policy issues should be debated and evaluated exclusively, and not within a more general project, as is the case with Build Back Better. Senators like John Cornyn, who oppose the approval of the reform, echoed this argument.

For their part, the Democratic senators who support the new immigration reform argue that it is necessary to urgently enact laws that guarantee the rights of the migrant population in the event that a future administration tries to re-implement restrictive immigration policies or tries to begin a deportation campaign.

Although the bill already has the approval of the House of Representatives, it still has to be approved by the senators to take effect. The statements of both the Republican majority and the Senate parliamentarian allow us to anticipate that it will be a path full of obstacles, but the support that the new immigration reform has received so far also inspires optimism among all migrants and advocates in the country.

If you are in need of immigration legal advice, do not hesitate to contact us! At the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon we have wide experience in immigration proceedings, family law, and personal injury and have successfully defended our clients for over 10 years. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 281-606-5362!

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