Budget package includes plan for pathway to citizenship, green cards for millions
Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution package instructs lawmakers to chart a pathway to citizenship for millions of people while investing in border security.
The bill text unveiled Monday includes some $107 billion for the Senate Judiciary Committee to spend on each, giving lawmakers a soft deadline of Sept. 15.
The package does not specify how many people or which groups would be covered by the legislation, instead directing the committee to provide “lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants.” A summary of the bill also states it will provide green cards “to millions of immigrant workers and families.”
House Democrats have floated a plan that would cover not only Dreamers brought to the U.S. as children but also migrant farmworkers, workers deemed essential during the pandemic and those who already hold Temporary Protected Status after being unable to return to their countries.
In all, Democrats could make around 10 million people eligible for a path to citizenship — just shy of the 11 million people who would be affected by a bill from Biden that has stalled in Congress.
The inclusion of immigration in the budget reconciliation package comes shortly after President Biden last month forcefully backed the idea.
“I think we should include in the reconciliation bill the immigration proposal,” Biden told reporters following a meeting with Congressional Hispanic Caucus legislators and others who have worked on immigration reform.
Senate Judiciary members, however, have thus far made little progress when it comes to immigration.
A proposal from GOP Sens. John Cornyn (Texas) and Thom Tillis (N.C.) encouraged Democrats to seek a pathway to citizenship only for those Dreamers already enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It’s an offer that would benefit fewer than 700,000 people and excludes potential DACA recipients who were unable to access the program during the Trump administration — a number the Migration Policy Institute estimates is as high as 1.3 million additional people.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) slammed the exclusion of the broader population, writing later that “seeking to compel the deportation of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients who are helping our nation’s economy recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic makes little sense.”