Democrats make last ditch effort to keep immigration reform in Build Back Better budget bill

House Democrats last month passed legislation that would offer protection from deportation for millions of immigrants for the first time in more than 35 years.

The immigration provisions — part of a $1.85-trillion social spending bill — probably represent Democrats’ last chance to achieve reforms to the nation’s immigration system before the 2022 midterm election. After that, if Republicans gain the majority in Congress, the possibility of winning any protections for immigrants would probably drop exponentially.

The measures now face an uphill battle in the Senate, which is expected to take up the legislation this month, and they could be stripped by the Senate parliamentarian well before that. Adding to the challenges there, immigrant advocates are at odds over provisions that would provide work permits to nearly 7 million immigrants living in the country without authorization. The protections would provide temporary respite from deportation but not a path to citizenship.

Some immigrants and their allies say the provisions are a desperately needed start, while others call them unacceptable, a divide that echoes a long debate over whether immigrants should conform to some immediate protection from deportation or hold out for permanent legal status.

The bill, which Democrats call “Build Back Better,” would also help immigrants living in the country legally but who are stuck in a years-long green card backlog, and it would beef up the cash-strapped federal Citizenship and Immigration Services agency.

The centerpiece of the bill’s immigration provisions gives qualified immigrants who have lived in the U.S. since January 2011 the chance to apply for temporary work permits and protection from deportation under a process called “parole.”

Nearly 60% of immigrants in the country without authorization would be eligible for the protections — some 6.5 million people, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis. The work permits would last five years and could be renewed once, extending protections into 2031. Those eligible could also access federal benefits including Medicare and Medicaid, and receive permission to travel outside the country.

To get the legislation through the Senate, Democrats are using a procedure called reconciliation that allows them to pass the bill with 50 votes plus the tie breaking vote of the vice president. But the process requires all measures be directly related to the federal budget.

Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough determines whether policies pass muster. Senate Democratic aides met with MacDonough on Nov. 23 to discuss the plan for work permits, and she did not immediately rule it out, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Next MacDonough will formally assess whether the plan complies with the so-called Byrd rule, which requires that the legislation’s impact on government spending or revenue outweigh any “extraneous” policy changes. That assessment could come this week.

This is the third attempt by Senate Democrats to add protections for immigrants to the bill. MacDonough rejected the previous two.

The first offered a path to citizenship for certain immigrants without lawful status, including those who were brought to the country as children, temporary protected status holders, farm workers and other essential workers.

The second sought to allow immigrants who entered the country before 2010 to obtain residency if they were currently without lawful status.

“Changing the law to clear the way to [lawful permanent resident] status is tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact,” MacDonough wrote of the first proposal.

This article was written by Andrea Castillo, published on Wed, Dec 1, 2021 in the Los Angeles Times. To read the full article click here https://news.yahoo.com/democrats-last-effort-keep-immigration-130046904.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall

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