In a major setback for the ruling Democrats, the US Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that immigration reforms proposed by them to grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants cannot be attached to a USD 3.5 trillion social and environmental bill.
The Democrats hoped the immigration changes would cover Dreamers brought to the US as children, people affected by conflicts or natural disasters in their home countries, farmworkers and other essential workers.
"I am deeply disappointed by the Senate Parliamentarian’s ruling to block immigration reform in the budget reconciliation process,” said Congresswoman Deborah Ross after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough on Monday shot down efforts to include a path to legal status for certain immigrants in the bill.
“While this attempt to extend a path to citizenship to Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients, and essential workers were not successful, we have many other avenues to achieve this goal,” she said.
Ross is Vice-Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
Senate parliamentarian MacDonough ruled against Democrats' plan to provide 8 million green cards as part of their USD 3.5 trillion spending bill, dealing a significant blow to Democrats' immigration reform chances, The Hill reported.
Congressional parliamentarians are nonpartisan, unelected staff who serve as referees on procedures.
MacDonough's guidance, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, all but closes the door to Democrats using the spending bill to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants.
There are over 200,000 such young Americans, who have spent their entire childhood and teenage in the US, who are facing the prospects of imminent deportation to the country of their origin as they have either attained the age of 21 or are about to reach that age, after which they can no longer be dependent on their parent's visas.
A significantly large number of these parents are in a decades-long wait for a Green Card.
A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to immigrants to the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently in the US.
Senator Bob Menendez told reporters that Democrats will be going back to the Parliamentarian with other options in the coming days.
”She gave her view on only one approach on including a pathway to citizenship in reconciliation,” he said.
Ross said that she remains hopeful that Senate Democrats have alternate proposals to extend protections to these individuals.
“I will continue working with my House Judiciary colleagues to get immigration reform across the finish line,” she said.
In her report, MacDonough the move to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants and proposed provisions, which could have put millions of undocumented immigrants, including those brought to the US as children, on a track to permanent residency, did not comply with Senate procedural rules governing the reconciliation process.
“The policy changes of this proposal far outweigh the budgetary impact scored to it and it is not appropriate for inclusion in reconciliation,” MacDonough said.