Democrats have dealt a blow to immigration plans

WASHINGTON – The Senate parliamentarian on Sunday inflicted a major setback on Democrats’ plan to use their $ 3.5 trillion social policy...


WASHINGTON – The Senate parliamentarian on Sunday inflicted a major setback on Democrats’ plan to use their $ 3.5 trillion social policy bill to create a path to citizenship for around 8 million undocumented immigrants.

Elizabeth MacDonough, the parliamentarian of the Senate, who serves as the chamber’s arbiter of its own rules, wrote that “the policy changes of this proposal far outweigh the budgetary impact assigned to it and it is not appropriate to include in reconciliation, ”according to a copy of his ruling obtained by The New York Times.

Democrats sought to grant legal status to undocumented migrants brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers; immigrants who have been granted temporary protection status for humanitarian reasons; nearly a million agricultural workers; and millions more who are considered “essential workers”.

Immigration advocates had touted the plan as their best chance for this Congress to improve the lives of millions of immigrants, after attempts to reach a bipartisan deal with Republicans collapsed.

“We are deeply disappointed by this decision but the struggle to provide legal status to immigrants as part of fiscal reconciliation continues,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat and majority leader, in a statement, adding that the Democrats would meet the parliamentarian. . “The American people understand that fixing our broken immigration system is a moral and economic imperative.”

Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat No.2, and Senator Alex Padilla, Democrat of California, also released a statement saying they had prepared “an alternative proposal for parliamentary consideration in the next few months. days”.

Meanwhile, immigration advocates were already urging Democrats who control the Senate to vote to ignore Ms MacDonough’s decision and include the immigration overhaul in the package anyway.

United We Dream Action director Greisa Martinez Rosas called the parliamentarian an “unelected adviser” and said Democrats in Congress “have all the power to do the right thing.”

Under the Democrats’ proposal, undocumented immigrants would have been eligible to become U.S. citizens if they had passed their background and health checks and paid a fee of $ 1,500, among other requirements. The plan also reportedly recovered at least 226,000 visas that had not been used in previous years due to “Covid-19 or bureaucratic delay”, allowing more visas to be issued.

Democrats hoped to include immigration overhaul in their broad legislation broaden the social safety net, which they plan to implement as part of a fast-track process known as reconciliation that shields it from Republican obstruction. Who would be test the limits of the Senate Rules, which require that any measure included in a reconciliation bill have a direct impact on federal spending and revenues.

Ms MacDonough’s decisions are merely advisory, but several Democratic senators have indicated they would be reluctant to overturn it. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The budgetary cost of changes to the immigration law – which affect health care benefits, Medicaid spending and tax credits – exceeds $ 139 billion over 10 years, according to preliminary figures from the Congressional Budget Office. Democrats estimate the legalization campaign would add $ 1.5 trillion to the US economy over the next decade, creating more than 400,000 jobs.

Republicans argue that the immigration overhaul is only tangentially tied to the budget and that Congress should focus on controlling the southern border with Mexico before attempting to change immigration law.

“Having worked on several comprehensive immigration reform bills, I believe using the reconciliation process to provide legal status to illegal immigrants would be a disaster,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina , the highest republican on the budget committee. “It would have led to an increase in the rush to the border – beyond the chaos we already have there today.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Republican, last week called Ms. MacDonough an “honest broker” and said following her decisions was “essential” to the functioning of the Senate.

“The parliamentarian, both sides agree, is the last word,” McConnell said. “I can’t blame the other party for trying to use reconciliation as widely as they want.”

In her ruling, MacDonough repeatedly highlighted the scale of the policy change proposed by the Democrats.

“The reasons people risk their lives to come to this country – to escape religious and political persecution, famine, war, unspeakable violence and lack of opportunity in their home country – do cannot be measured in federal dollars, ”the parliamentarian wrote.

She argued that “changing the law to pave the way” for the legal status of millions of undocumented immigrants is “a huge and lasting policy change that overshadows its fiscal impact.”

Immigration advocates have prepared back-up plans in case the parliamentarian does not vote in their favor, including a plan to update the immigration register, a process for immigrants to become lawful permanent residents based on their long-standing presence in the country.

Kerri Talbot, deputy director of the Immigration Hub, said immigration advocates will not give up.

“This is not the end of the process,” she said in a statement. “As we said before, this is not an isolated case. We always knew that it would be a back and forth where we would have to present several options. What we do know is true: A path to permanent residence and citizenship has a big fiscal impact, great bipartisan support, and most importantly, it is essential to America’s recovery. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Democrats have dealt a blow to immigration plans
Democrats have dealt a blow to immigration plans
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