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Immigration Reform in Build Back Better Bill Moves Forward

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New York Daily News editorial: “Last chance: Pared-down immigration provisions must be kept in the reconciliation bill

Washington, DC – With Congress back in session this week following the House’s recent passage of the Build Back Better legislative package, below are several key updates about the immigration provisions included in the bill.

“Hopeful sign” 

A pre-Thanksgiving Axios story was headlined, “Democrats get hopeful sign from parliamentarian on immigration.” It recapped an informal presentation by Senate Democratic staff to the Senate parliamentarian last Tuesday:

“Democrats got a hopeful sign from the Senate rules referee Tuesday in their effort to include provisions for undocumented immigrants in the $1.75 trillion ‘human’ infrastructure bill they hope to pass through the partisan reconciliation process … Democrats have promised to pursue immigration reform through the legislation that’s also focused on expanding the social safety net and addressing climate change.

Their two previous proposals were turned away by the Senate parliamentarian. Two people familiar with discussions described the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting as a positive sign. The Senate Parliamentarian did not accept, reject or recommend changes to the proposal — only moving it along to a formal test of budgetary effects in which both parties will be able to make their case to the parliamentarian.”

“No participation trophies”

A New York Times article published this weekend is titled, “Democrats Struggle to Energize Their Base as Frustrations Mount.” The piece quotes leading immigrant advocate Lorella Praeli on why Democrats need to deliver on their promises on immigration: 

“Lorella Praeli, the president of Community Change Action, a group advocating immigration reform, offered a terse warning to the administration about keeping Latino support: ‘There are no participation trophies.’”

“Pared-down immigration provisions must be kept in the reconciliation bill”

The New York Daily News editorial board is out with an editorial calling on Democrats to deliver on the immigration provisions in the Build Back Better bill. Titled, “Last chance: Pared-down immigration provisions must be kept in the reconciliation bill,” the piece decries the fact that the bill falls short of the ultimate goal of citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, but concludes:

“[F]or millions of people around the country, not to mention for the recovering economy, work authorization and protections from deportation will make a world of difference. It’s not enough, but it is certainly better than nothing, which is why it absolutely needs to remain in the final version of the Senate reconciliation bill.

… Unlike some other administration priorities that have been bumped from the bill, the main peril to the immigration measure’s success comes not from moderate Democrats but from Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who has twice ruled against efforts to enact a more permanent fix for immigrants. In her estimation, these measures were mainly intended to shift policy, not budgets, and therefore were inappropriate to include in the bill.

In this case, what is being contemplated is not a change to existing laws, and there should be no reason to interfere with its inclusion. It’s a wretched state of affairs that there are almost no prospects for a standalone immigration bill given that legalizing longtime immigrants is overwhelmingly popular with the U.S. public and had been a point of relative bipartisan consensus up until the last couple of decades. Still, as things stand, this reconciliation is the only shot, and it should include these protections.”

America’s Voice memo 

America’s Voice has written a piece on why the work permits and deportation protections that passed in the House legislation are a meaningful step forward. The memo’s three key points:

  1. The immigration provisions of BBB would provide meaningful relief for 7.1 million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for an average of 20 years.
  2. The provisions are specifically designed to pass muster with the Senate Parliamentarian.
  3. The American public strongly supports reform and relief for undocumented immigrants.

Read the full memo from America’s Voice here.