The Senate Parliamentarian blocked Democrats’ proposal Sunday to include a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants in their social spending plan.
The Parliamentarian, in the decision, stated that the immigration reform push was “by any standard a broad, new immigration policy” and that the policy change “substantially outweighs the budgetary impact of that change,” Politico reports.
Politico notes that any path forward for immigration reform through a budget reconciliation process, which would allow a straight, party-line vote without a filibuster threat, is likely now closed.
In making their case for allowing an amnesty in the budget reconciliation package, Democrats argued that giving green cards to approximately 8 million Dreamers, farmworkers, essential workers and Temporary Protected Status recipients during a pandemic would have a budgetary impact, since more people would become eligible for federal benefits, which would increase the deficit by over $130 billion.
However, Politico notes that the parliamentarian rejected the Democrats’ case, ruling that providing legal status through reconciliation would also lead to “other, life-changing federal, state and societal benefits,” and that permanent legal status would “would give these persons freedom to work, freedom to travel, freedom to live openly in our society in any state in the nation, and to reunite with their families and it would make them eligible, in time, to apply for citizenship — things for which there is no federal fiscal equivalent.”
In response to another argument from Democrats saying that there is a precedent for including immigration reform in a reconciliation package that stems from a 2005 Republican-led reconciliation bill addressing a visa backlog, the parliamentarian stated that this bill is much different, in that the bill from 2005 was “the product of a bipartisan agreement.”
In addition, the 2005 bill’s provisions “are distinguishable as they applied to persons who were already admissible and not barred under law from applying for status, which is not the case here.”