The parliamentarian of the Senate spoke out on Sunday against a project to legalize undocumented migrantsliving in the United States on a budget bill, dealing a significant, if not fatal, blow to an effort Democrats saw as their best chance of putting millions of people on the path to American citizenship.
In a ruling obtained by CBS News, Elizabeth MacDonough, the Member of Parliament for the Senate, called the plan to make green card-eligible approximately 8 million undocumented immigrants “a broad new immigration policy” that could not be included. in the reconciliation process, a procedure that can be used to pass budget bills with a simple majority of senators.
MacDonough’s decision is a crushing setback for immigrant advocates and Democratic lawmakers, who hoped to use the budget reconciliation process to create a massive legalization agenda for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. , holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), farm workers and other coronavirus-era essential workers.
Items included in the budget reconciliation process, which bypasses the 60-vote threshold typically required to pass Senate legislation, must have a direct impact on the US budget. Historically, the provisions that the Senate parliamentarian determined would have an “ancillary” budgetary impact have collapsed, including a plan to raise the minimum wage in February.
The Democrats’ argument to parliamentarian was that their proposal would have a budgetary impact because it would allow some immigrants to obtain permanent residence, which would qualify them for federal benefits, like Medicaid and food stamps.
The Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary estimate predicted that this would increase budget deficits by $ 139.6 billion over a 10-year period, which Democratic aides said represented a “direct and substantial budgetary impact.”
But MacDonough said the legalization program would do more than just make immigrants eligible for federal benefits. It would also protect them from deportation, provide them with a work permit, qualify them for driving licenses, allow them to travel and allow them to âlive openly in our societyâ.
âChanging the law to pave the way for (lawful permanent resident) status is a huge and lasting policy change that overshadows its fiscal impact,â MacDonough wrote.
In a statement Sunday evening, the leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the parliamentarian’s decision. But he promised to hold additional meetings with her to present “alternative proposals”.
âAmerica has always been this shining city on the hill that welcomes those who pursue the American dream and our economy depends more than ever on immigrants,â said Schumer. “Despite putting their lives at risk during the pandemic and paying their fair share of taxes, they remain excluded from the federal aid that has served as a lifeline for so many families.”