Joe Biden has unveiled his promised path to citizenship for undocumented Americans, but it faces a Senate unlikely to pass it through normal means, and supporters are pushing Democrats to approve it through reconciliation, in order to avoid a Senate filibuster, The Washington Post reports.

The bill is a sweeping reform of immigration law, something the U.S. hasn’t seen since 1986, while Ronald Reagan was President. Its centerpiece consists of two new paths to citizenship: a standard eight-year process and an accelerated version for some demographics.

That group includes undocumented immigrants doing farm labor, those who arrived as children and refugees from countries too dangerous to return to. These people would have immediate access to green cards and a three-year path to citizenship as long as they arrived before Jan. 1.

Demonstrators protest in support of undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles in November 2019
The Senate parliamentarian blocked Democrats from including a provision for citizenship pathways in the $3.5 trillion package. In photo: Demonstrators protest in support of undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles in November 2019. AFP / Frederic J. BROWN

The bill also contains a number of other major provisions, reports CNBC, including:

  • Raising the cap on family and employment immigration per country
  • Allowing undocumented immigrants to return to the U.S. without the previous ban, which would last anywhere from three years to a decade
  • Expanding international drug enforcement forces in Central America
  • Increasing funding for technology at the southern border
  • Replacing “alien” with “non-citizen” in laws

Republicans criticized the plan, with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., calling it “blanket amnesty.” Others in the conservative caucus had asked for an expansion of citizenship checks in employment processes, but Biden’s administration confirmed that would remain voluntary.

With Republican support unlikely, Democratic advocates are calling on Congress to pass it through reconciliation, a budgetary process that avoids filibusters to lower the passage threshold from 60 to 50 votes. The same process is being used to push through a COVID relief plan.

“There is a point where Joe Biden is going to have to decide,” Nicole Melaku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans, told The Washington Post. “There is a moment where every disposable tool in his toolbox will need to be pulled out whether or not Republicans come along.”