Senate parliamentarian won't allow citizenship pathway for immigrants in Democrats' spending bill

Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

In a closed-door meeting earlier this month, Democrats argued the proposal was a budgetary issue because providing citizenship would cost the government about $140 billion over 10 years as new U.S. citizens became eligible for benefits, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans countered that the immigration provisions were social policy with only a small impact on the budget.

Democrats are expected to go to MacDonough with a second proposal that would change existing law to make more people eligible for a green card. The policy relies on the existing registry, an obscure part of immigration law that allows certain people who have been present in the United States since Jan. 1, 1972, to apply for a green card even if they are in the country unlawfully.

Under this plan, that date would be changed to something much more recent, with some people pointing to a likely date of 2011. The date will depend on the total amount of money that can be spent on immigration policy in the reconciliation bill.

This plan would probably not cover as many people, particularly farmworkers and essential workers who arrived in the country in recent years.


“We are deeply disappointed in this decision but the fight to provide lawful status for immigrants in budget reconciliation continues,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday night, committing to going back to MacDonough with alternatives that have already been prepared.

Immigration advocates insist that there are multiple ways to enact the policy.

Democrats are also likely to be under pressure to overrule the parliamentarian’s guidance. But many rank-and-file Democrats have shown reluctance to do so in the past.

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