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New immigration Plans Tucked Away in the U.S. House Reconciliation Package

In an attempt to pass the Budget Resolution bill through a reconciliation package, the Democrats added a provision tucked away into the $3.5 trillion spending package that would grant lawful permanent resident status to qualifying undocumented immigrants.

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    What is the U.S. House Reconciliation Package?

    Normally, if a bill is passed in the U.S. Senate, it is approved by vote with a two-thirds majority (This would require at least 60 votes to pass). Currently, the U.S. Senate is politically split with 50 Democrats and 50 Republican Senators. A tie can be broken if the President of the Senate (who is Vice President Kamala Harris) gives the deciding vote. As a result of the deadlock due to senators voting along party lines, it is very difficult to get bills passed with a two-thirds majority.

    However, another way to get around the mandatory 60 vote requirement is through a reconciliation process. In this process, a bill can pass in the Senate with the slightest majority (at least 51 votes) and a filibuster is not allowed. In order for a reconciliation bill to be presented to the Senate, it must first be approved by both the House and Senate and must meet the strict standards set by the non-partisan Senate Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, who can omit some provisions if she finds that it is not relevant to the bill. Not all bills are eligible to go through the reconciliation process, however. For a bill to go through the reconciliation process it must be related to revenue, spending, and the federal debt limit.

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    Immigration Provisions in the Reconciliation Bill

    If passed, this reconciliation bill will allocate $107 billion to grant permanent lawful resident status to undocumented immigrants and for the efforts to improve border security. This provision would grant green cards to those in the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), migrant farmworkers, those with Temporary Protected Status who can not return to their home countries, and essential workers who are without legal status.   After a certain amount of years living in the United States with lawful permanent resident status, these green cardholders will be eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship.

    Along with including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the budget bill also includes additional child care subsidies, clean energy incentives, and a new paid family leave program amongst other progressive endeavors. It should be noted that the bill does not specify how many people would be eligible for Green Cards, only that it will be provided to “qualified immigrants”.

    What could this mean for the United States?

    According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are more than 11 million undocumented people in the United States. If these individuals are granted lawful permanent resident status through this bill provision then the U.S. could benefit from an economic boom.

    A report by the Center for American Progress estimates that nearly half a million new jobs would be created simply by creating a pathway to U.S. citizenship for these immigrants. The U.S.’s gross domestic product could even increase by $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years.

    In addition, this provision could also help solidify DACA’s legal standing as it was recently overturned when a federal judge found it to be unlawful when it was created by an executive order from then-President Obama. Other bills created to help DACA recipients gain legal status have yet to pass a majority vote in the U.S. Senate. Those hoping for progressive immigration reform such as this will just have to wait in the coming weeks ahead for the bill to pass with the immigration provisions intact.

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