Biden’s immigration plan introduced in Congress

February 19, 2021: Biden’s immigration plan was introduced in the House and Senate, and ICE released new guidance

President Joe Biden (D) and his team have been preparing for the transition between presidential administrations since the election, including selecting senior White House staff and appointees to top government positions.

In 2020, there were 1,472 government positions subject to presidential appointment: 1,118 positions required Senate confirmation and 354 did not. The new administration is also responsible for filling thousands of other positions across the federal government, including in operations and policy. Every weekday, Ballotpedia is tracking potential Cabinet nominees, appointments, and news related to the Biden administration.

  • The Senate Finance Committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for Katherine Tai, Biden’s nominee for U.S. trade representative, for Feb. 25.


  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) introduced Biden’s immigration proposal in the Senate and House on Feb. 18. The bill would provide an eight-year path for people living in the country without legal permission to become citizens, remove restrictions on family-based immigration, and expand worker visas. According to The New York Times, it also “invests $4 billion over four years in distressed economies in the hopes of preventing people from fleeing to the United States because of security and economic crises.” 
  • Interim guidance went into effect Feb. 18 for Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees. The guidance establishes three priority categories for arresting and deporting noncitizens in the country without permission: people seen as posing a national security threat, such as those engaged in espionage or terrorism; those who entered the U.S. on or after Nov. 1, 2020; and those seen as posing a threat to public safety and convicted of an aggravated felony or involved in gang activity. The guidance remains in effect until Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas releases new guidelines.  
  • The Biden administration announced on Feb. 18 it is willing to begin talks with Iran and world leaders about returning to the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, from which Donald Trump withdrew in 2018. Biden also rescinded Trump’s restoration of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

Transition in Context: In Their Words…

Here’s what Democratic and Republican leaders, advisers, and stakeholders said about Xavier Becerra as the nominee for secretary of health and human services.

  • “Curiously, the President’s candidate to run the Department of Health and Human Services is the famously partisan Attorney General of California. His recent experience in health policy seems largely limited to promoting abortion on-demand and suing groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor who dare to live out their religious convictions.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R)
  • “I think he’s going to be the perfect wingman to the Bernie Sanders approach to healthcare. … My main reservation is … why would you not want to reform the healthcare system before you get government more involved with it?” — Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
  • “There are a lot of partisans in Washington. … That is not Xavier’s style. He doesn’t have sharp elbows. Yes, he’s left of center. But he is not a ‘my way or the highway’ type.’” — Former Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Penn.)
  • “The story his record tells alone is clear, compelling, and persuasive. He has fought against tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies, and polluters, and for the Affordable Care Act, reproductive rights, and the health and wellbeing of migrant children. With a record like that there can be no doubt he is going to continue to be a champion for patients as Secretary of Health and Human Services.” — Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

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