Senate Parliamentarian Rules Against Democrats’ Plan B For Immigration Reform

Democrats had modified their original plan in hopes of complying with reconciliation rules

Sep 29, 2021

The Capitol building

Democrats were dealt another setback on Wednesday when the Senate parliamentarian rejected their second proposal to include green cards for millions of undocumented immigrants as part of their $3.5 trillion spending plan.

Democrats initially had hoped to include a pathway to citizenship for DACA holders, farmworkers, and essential workers, but they were forced to revise their proposal after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough rejected it earlier this month. On Wednesday, she struck down their revised arguments, stating their proposal once again didn’t follow Senate rules.

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Democrats had modified their original plan to include a change to the Registry, a 1929 immigration provision that allows undocumented people already present in the United States to obtain a green card if they meet certain requirements.

Currently, only undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before Jan. 1, 1972 are eligible. If Congress advanced the date, millions of people living without legal status could apply for permanent residency and ultimately citizenship. Democrats proposed moving the eligibility date to 2010.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the parliamentarian wrote in Wednesday’s ruling, “The number of beneficiaries and score of this amendment…are largely the same as those of the earlier proposal which does not dramatically shift the balance of policy vs. score… The change in status to [lawful permanent resident] remains a life-long change in circumstances, the value of which vastly outweighs its budgetary impact.”

A Senate aide told USA Today that Democrats do not plan to pursue a “Plan C.”

In August, Senate Democrats made a case for including a pathway to legal permanent status in their spending bill, arguing that providing green cards to 8 million immigrants would have a significant impact on federal spending, revenue, and debt. The filibuster-proof plan was seen by many as the only chance Congress has to pass meaningful immigration reform before the midterm elections.

Earlier this year, President Biden included a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants as part of his immigration agenda, but so far his efforts have been thwarted by stalled bipartisan talks in Congress.

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