Last updated on: 3/6/2024 | Author:

Should the U.S. Government Provide a Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants?

“Path to citizenship” is a political phrase that usually refers to allowing undocumented immigrants to become American citizens via a special process. This process may include special requirements (such as fees, background checks, or additional waiting times) beyond those already in place for the naturalization of documented immigrants. Citizenship means the immigrants could receive government benefits (such as Social Security), would be eligible to vote, could bring family members into the U.S., and would not be deported for committing a crime. For more on the path to citizenship, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)


Joe Biden:

“The U.S. Citizenship Act will:

…Create an earned roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals. The bill allows undocumented individuals to apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes. Dreamers, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers who meet specific requirements are eligible for green cards immediately under the legislation. After three years, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can apply to become citizens. Applicants must be physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20, 2017 who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes. Lastly, the bill further recognizes America as a nation of immigrants by changing the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in our immigration laws.”

Editors’ Note: The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 did not pass the U.S. House.


White House, “Fact Sheet: President Biden Sends Immigration Bill to Congress as Part of His Commitment to Modernize our Immigration System,”, Jan. 20, 2021

CON (no)


Donald Trump:

“We’ve issued 40 million green cards since 1970, which means the permanent residency and a path to citizenship for many, many people. But we will not allow our generosity to be abused by those who would break our laws, defy our rules, violate our borders, break into our country illegally. We won’t allow it.

Mass, uncontrolled immigration is especially unfair to the many wonderful, law-abiding immigrants already living here who followed the rules and waited their turn. Some have been waiting for many years. Some have been waiting for a long time. They’ve done everything perfectly. And they’re going to come in. At some point, they’re going to come in. In many cases, very soon. We need them to come in, because we have companies coming into our country; they need workers. But they have to come in on a merit basis, and they will come in on a merit basis.”


Donald Trump, “Remarks by President Trump on the Illegal Immigration Crisis and Border Security,”, Nov. 1, 2018

Not Clear or Not Found

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

No position as of July 21, 2023.