- The nonpartisan interpreter of Senate rules announced Sunday that Democrats cannot use their spending bill to issue 8 million green cards
- Green card will allow dreamers and people with temporary protected status to eventually apply for citizenship
- In her decision, Elizabeth McDonough stated that the proposal does not meet the strict requirements of what can be included in a spending bill.
- Democrats were trying to pass the immigration plan without a Senate filibuster in a process called reconciliation
- There are strict rules of procedure and every provision must have an effect on the revenue or budget of the country.
- McDonough’s decision hits Democrats’ agenda
Democrats can’t use their $3.5 trillion spending bill to give a path to citizenship to millions of immigrants, the Senate lawmaker ruled late Sunday for crushing the party’s agenda.
The decision by Elizabeth McDonough, the Senate’s nonpartisan interpreter of its rules, is a potentially damaging blow to pro-immigration and progressive communities for President Joe Biden, congressional Democrats and their allies.
It badly hurts Democrats’ hopes of unilateral enactment – over Republican protests – by issuing 8 million green cards to multiple categories of immigrants seeking permanent residency and possibly citizenship changes.
With these green cards, immigrants will be granted legal permanent resident status, allowing them to eventually apply for citizenship if they meet other qualifications.
Elizabeth McDonough, the Senate’s nonpartisan interpreter of its rules, announced Sunday that Democrats cannot use their $3.5 trillion spending bill to help millions of immigrants seek permanent residency and possibly citizenship.
In his decision, McDonough ruled that the proposal did not meet stricter rules that could be included in the spending bill, calling it ‘a comprehensive, new immigration policy by any standard’.
“The policy changes of this proposal far outweigh the budgetary impact made for it, and it is not fit for inclusion in the conciliation,” he wrote. mountain, referring to the budget process Democrats are using to stop the Senate filibuster.
Democrats gave him the idea earlier this month, new York Times The report, to allow undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens if they have passed background and health checks, and paid a $1,500 fee, among other requirements.
The plan also took back at least 226,000 visas that had gone unused in previous years ‘due to COVID-19 or bureaucratic delays, which could have allowed more visas to be issued.
Democrats estimated the proposal would add $1.5 trillion to the US economy over the next decade, creating more than 400,000 jobs, but the Congressional Budget Office said it would increase the nation’s deficit by $139 billion over 10 years, The main reason for this will be federal benefits to immigrants. qualify for.
McDonough wrote in his ruling, “For reasons that 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 countries – federal cannot be measured in dollars.”
Republicans also argued to McDonough that immigration reform was outside the scope that could be passed under reconciliation, a view she agreed with.
Under the rules of a conciliation, McDonough noted, any provision added to a spending bill has to affect the federal government’s spending or revenue in a way that cannot be ‘merely incidental’, which it ruled. Was.
‘There is a change in law to clear the way for LPR status’ [a] forceful and permanent policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact,’ she wrote in her decision.
Estimates vary on how many immigrants would have benefited from the proposal, as it includes young immigrants who are illegally brought into the country as children, often referred to as ‘Dreamers’; immigrants with temporary protected status who have fled countries plagued by natural disasters or extreme violence; essential staff; and farm workers.
But the Liberal Center for American Progress estimates that the Democratic effort could help as many as 6 million people.
Biden had proposed a massive campaign that would have affected 11 million immigrants.
The decision is a blow to the progressive wing of President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party’s pro-immigration agenda.
United We Dream executive director Greisa Martínez Rojas tweeted that the fight for citizenship is not over
Democrats and their pro-immigration allies have said they would offer an alternative approach to McDonough that would open the door to permanent status for at least some immigrants.
“We are deeply disappointed by this decision but the fight to provide legal status for immigrants in budget reconciliation continues,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a written statement.
‘Senate Democrats have prepared alternative proposals and will hold additional meetings with Senate MPs in the coming days.’
One such approach would be to update the date of the ‘registry’ that allows certain immigrants to become permanent residents in the US by that time if they meet certain conditions, but it was unclear whether they would pursue that option. or how the MPs will govern.
Gresa Martinez Rojas, executive director of United We Dream, an immigrant rights group, tweeted: ‘The MP’s recommendation is just that: a recommendation’.
‘Democrats can still give citizenship this year. The time has come for them to support the millions of immigrants, our friends and our communities.
‘It’s not over,’ she continued. ‘We need citizenship this year.’
The House has previously passed two smaller bills to provide a path to citizenship for these immigrants, but Senate Democrats have been unable to pass a plan with the 10 Republican votes needed to break a filibuster.
Left vulnerable to delays in those bill-killings, which require 60 Senate votes to defy, there is almost no chance of immigration provisions in the 50-50 Senate.
Under the proposal, immigrants brought to the United States as children would be given a path to citizenship
The provisions would have created separate, multi-year processes for immigrants to obtain legal permanent residency, which in turn would allow many so-called Dreamers to pursue citizenship.
The lawmaker’s decision is sure to anger progressive Democrats, for whom immigration provisions have been a top priority in the total $3.5 trillion bill.
The legislation would boost spending for social safety nets, environmental and other programs and finance initiatives largely with tax increases on the wealthy and corporations.
Moderate Democrats want to reduce some provisions, including lowering its price tag, but progressives oppose reducing it.
Dick Durbin, chairman of Illinois’ Senate Judiciary Committee, is leading bipartisan talks on broad legislation that would satisfy nearly every Democrat in Congress, but the process is slow, The Hill reports.
Democrats may lose 50-50 no votes in the Senate and no more than three in the House.
The party may also face renewed calls to get rid of filibuster, which would allow them to pass immigration reform and other priorities with a simple majority.
If they do, Hill reports, they could fire McDonough or formally eliminate him on the Senate floor.