Biden has characterized his bill as a way to reimagine immigration in the United States after the Trump administration clamped down on it, and the measure addresses details such as replacing the word "alien" with "noncitizen".
The legislation will benefit the so-called Dreamers, people who were brought to the USA illegally as children and grew up there.
- The annual per-country limits on many forms of legal immigration would be raised and family reunifications would speed up for green card holders.
Since coming to power, Biden has announced a push to reform immigration and roll back his predecessor's hardline policies, including with the creation of a special task force to reunite families separated by Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy towards undocumented immigrants.
White House officials called the bill a chance to "reset and restart conversations on immigration reform", labeling the bill as Biden's "vision of what it takes to fix the system".
The plan includes $4 billion spread over four years to try to boost economic development and tackle corruption in Latin American countries, to try to address some of the root causes of migration to the U.S.
Advocates for immigrants cheered plans to formally introduce the bill, the broad outlines of which Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office, but said they doubted it would pass. Democrats hold the House, but they need at least 10 Republican votes to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass the Senate.
Both former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush had attempted to put their stamp on immigration by unveiling proposals that included pathways to citizenship, but both plans were rejected by Congress.
Menendez was part of the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators who negotiated a 2013 bill that ultimately collapsed.
"No! This is not the right time and certainly not the right set of policies", House Republican Bill Johnson tweeted on Thursday. Rep. Jim Jordan of OH, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, charged in a statement that the bill "rewards those who broke the law" and "floods the labor market at a time when millions of Americans are out of work".
Sanchez noted that "Congress has tried and failed in the past, and we aren't naive about the challenges that we face". During a CNN town hall Tuesday night, Biden said that while a pathway to citizenship would be essential in any immigration bill, "there's things I would deal by itself".
That could leave the door open to standalone bills focused on providing a pathway to citizenship for various populations.
"The reason we have not gotten immigration reform over the finish line is not because of a lack of will", Menendez said.