‘Three amigos’ lead House Democrats calling for Senate immigration bill
A group of 28 House Democrats on Thursday laid out their last-minute plea for the Senate to take up immigration reform before Congress goes home for the holidays.
In a letter led by the “three amigos” — Reps. Lou Correa (D-Calif.), Jesús García (D-Ill.) and Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) — the Democrats called on Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to move legislation granting a path to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented people in the country.
“The inclusion of permanent protections for immigrants across the nation is a moral, economic, and political imperative that must be addressed. As we move forward with a narrow majority, the need to pass immigration reform has become increasingly important,” the Democrats wrote.
The broad appeal is significant, because it publicly makes the argument for granting papers to more than 10 million people, rather than picking favorites within the undocumented community.
“In the United States, there are currently 10.5 million undocumented immigrants that have deep roots in our communities, serve on the frontlines of the industries that help our nation thrive, attend U.S. colleges and universities, and form the backbone of the U.S. economy,” the Democrats wrote.
In their pitch, the lawmakers underscore the economic contributions of undocumented immigrants, including beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs, as well as undocumented farmworkers, laborers and longtime residents with no path to citizenship.
For a majority of undocumented people in the country, there is no option available to get legal status.
“Undocumented immigrants play a critical function in our local communities and nationwide. They continue to supply essential services to help keep our communities and country running. They are crucial to the nation’s economic recovery and our future economic growth,” the Democrats wrote.
“In 2016, immigrants added $2 trillion to the U.S. GDP and $458.7 billion in state, local and federal taxes in 2018. Overall, they also have $1.2 trillion in spending power,” they added.
The lawmakers also wrote that granting papers to undocumented immigrants would raise U.S. gross domestic product by $1.7 trillion over 10 years and add nearly half a million jobs to the economy.
Still, the prospects for any immigration bill are dimming as the congressional calendar draws short and members trim down must-pass legislation to ease its passage.
Two House-passed bills — one protecting DACA and TPS recipients, another expanding agricultural farmworker visas — are unlikely to see the light of day in the Senate, and Senate-originated immigration deals have so far failed to gain traction.
But with their appeal, the Democratic lawmakers are signaling they’re ready to build a last-minute rally if the Senate does approve any immigration measures before the current Congress ends and the new GOP majority takes over in the House.
“This is a crucial moment. Millions of immigrants living in the United States are relying on congressional leadership to take a major step towards achieving a pathway to citizenship that is just, inclusive, and fair. As Labor Secretary Marty Walsh puts it, inaction is not an option and could lead to ‘catastrophe.'”
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