Lawmakers are hoping to resurface immigration bills on the House floor before April 1, a period in which they can introduce legislation in the new session that's already passed in the chamber without going through committee again. Those bills would grant legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers and address immigrants who came to the US illegally as children, as well as two other programs, Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure, that offer temporary relief. However, lawmakers are wrestling with how to move forward.
Then in addition, there's President Joe Biden's immigration legislation, known as the US Citizenship Act, which tackles the whole US immigration system and seeks to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants already in the US.
Biden said during a CNN town hall this month that he wants a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants residing in the US but signaled willingness to pass other immigration measures in the interim.
The question of order and timing is in part a calculation about what can actually become law. While Democrats largely support legalizing millions of immigrants who are already in the country illegally, as Biden's proposal would do, there is a risk in passing a sweeping bill in the House only to watch it go nowhere in the Senate.
Moderate Democrats, some of whom won election in districts that Donald Trump carried in 2016 and 2020, fear that voting on a comprehensive immigration bill without a clear path in the Senate could open them up to unnecessary attacks. It's one thing, they argue, to vote on legislation that will become law, but it's another thing to vote just for the sake of messaging and then suffer political attacks later.