Democrats Cannot Grant Legal Status to Millions of Immigrants in Latest Budget Bill

The Senate Parliamentarian ruled on Sunday that the Democrats cannot provide a path to citizenship for 8 million undocumented immigrants as part of their latest $3.5 trillion budget bill.

The Senate official, Elizabeth MacDonough, dealt a blow to immigration reformists who hoped to secure the legislation to help give status to millions of immigrants in Biden’s first year in office. Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said he is “deeply disappointed” by the ruling. He also stated that Senate Democrats “have prepared a number of alternate proposals and will be holding additional meetings with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days.” The move would have benefited the likes of Dreamers – those who had come to the country illegally as children, as well as those holding Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – those who have fled their home countries due to conflict or natural disaster.

Earlier, Democrats and Republicans had made arguments to the parliamentarian over whether the legislation should and could be included in the budget bill. This process can allow the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass bills with just a simple majority. However, laws passed this way must be shown to have a significant long term effect on the U.S. budget. Democrats had insisted that the legalisation of up to 8 million immigrants would indeed have a major impact on the economy. MacDonough cited a CBO estimate that Democrats’ proposals could increase federal deficits by up to $140 billion over the coming decade due largely to the federal benefits the immigrants would qualify for should they become legal.

One alternative reformists have said is worth exploring would be to update a “registry” date that allows some immigrants in the US by that time to become permanent residents if they meet certain conditions. But it was unclear if they would pursue that option or how the parliamentarian would rule.

The good news is that we’re still fighting, and we’ll continue to fight until we get a fair path to legal status to immigrants that call American their home. Get in touch with your local office if you have any questions about what this means for you.

© Margaret W. Wong & Associates 2021. The above text is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.

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