Immigration bill ruling blow for 8 million people, including green card hopefuls


Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough’s ruling on the immigration reform bill is a harsh blow to the Biden administration’s plan to provide legal permanent status for 8 million immigrants.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled that the immigration reform bill cannot be included in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package.

Those 8 million people who would have benefitted from the bill included DACA recipients, those with Temporary Protected Status, and people waiting for green cards for years.

Civil rights organizations, immigration attorneys and elected officials who reacted to the ruling, however, had not given up hope.

Tejas Shah, immigration attorney and Partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, explained to indica News that both parties have, to date, agreed that they would abide by the parliamentarian’s ruling on whether or not a proposed provision meets the requirements of the Byrd rule.

The Byrd rule is named after former West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd and allows for the passage of a budgetary reconciliation bill with a majority vote as opposed to a “filibuster-proof” vote of 60 senators.

Shah said: “While some Democrats want to overrule the parliamentarian, it is not clear that they have the votes to do so and the more likely outcome is they will try again with a different set of proposals.”

Asked is there hope for both documented and DACA recipients to see pathway to citizenship, Shah said: “The type of mass legalization program that Democrats originally envisioned is unlikely to happen, but a narrower set of provisions is still possible.

This could also include the recapture of unused green cards, which is of such importance to the Indian community as well as several others,” he added.

Lakshmi Sridaran, Executive Director, South Asian Americans Leading Together(SAALT) told indica News, “It is deeply disappointing that the Senate parliamentarian continues to advise against critical components like a minimum wage increase and now a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in spending bills. It is unfortunate, but intentional that every legislative and executive pathway for immigration relief continues to be blocked regardless of the party in power.”

“We will continue to fight for migrants and immigrants of all status,” Sridaran cited. “In the meantime, we urge our country’s leaders to examine our flawed foreign interventions and other efforts to destabilize leadership around the world resulting in forced migration; and our tech sector’s desire for cheap labor.”

California-based Maricela Gutierrez, executive director of the Services, Immigration Rights and Education Network (SIREN), a civil rights nonprofit said in a statement: “It is imperative that we seize this opportunity at a time when Democrats control the House, the Senate, and the White House. This nation is in desperate need of change, and that starts with immigration. Failure to act boldly on immigration would only hurt us all.”

According to media reports, Democratic lawmakers are looking for alternatives.

Reacting to the ruling, US Senator Dick Durbin (Illinois, Democrat) tweeted: “I am deeply disappointed in the Parliamentarian’s decision tonight, but the fight for immigration reform will continue.”

According to Politico, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democrats are “deeply disappointed in the decision” but plan to meet with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days and pursue other options.