Democrats’ Drive for Immigration Overhaul Again Rejected
(Bloomberg) -- Democrats’ drive to use President Joe Biden’s economic agenda to change immigration laws hit a new setback when the Senate parliamentarian denied for the second time efforts to include language providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people.
Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough told lawmakers that their proposal, which leveraged an outdated immigration registration, is a “weighty policy change” that isn’t largely budgetary in nature, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News.
As such, the immigration proposal doesn’t meet the requirements for the budget reconciliation process, which Democrats are using to push an economic package worth as much as $3.5 trillion through the Senate with only Democratic support.
Senator Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democratic leader who was driving efforts to get the immigration provision in the economic package, said Democrats have only “limited” options at this point. He noted the parliamentarian has now rejected two plans that would offer legal permanent residency. He didn’t delineate what alternate approaches they might try now.
“These people leave desperate lives for fear of a knock on the door and no future for their kids,” he said. “And unfortunately we can’t find the language to clear for the reconciliation that might happen. Not yet, we’re gonna keep trying.”
MacDonough earlier blocked Democrats from including a proposal to provide as many as 8 million undocumented immigrants -- including young “Dreamers” and migrant workers -- the ability to apply for legal status.
An immigration overhaul has broad support among Democrats in the House and Senate. Leaving it out of the reconciliation bill would generate protests from progressives, whose push for a much bigger economic plan has already fallen by the wayside.
The “Plan B” immigration approach Democrats put forth centered on an existing immigration registry that is outdated but has been used as a tool to provide green cards for some undocumented immigrants on the basis of their long-term presence in the U.S., regardless of their status or how they entered the country.
That registry hasn’t been altered in federal law since 1986, when an entry year of 1972 was the cut-off for this green-card tool to apply. Democrats proposed moving the date to a more recent year.
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