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AILA Doc. No. 21091005 | Dated November 22, 2021
Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act with key immigration provisions. AILA's Greg Chen explains what is included in the bill the House passed and what are the next steps.
On September 29, the Senate parliamentarian issued her second negative opinion on the legalization provisions presented to her by Democrats, this time regarding updating the registry date. The parliamentarian ruled against the inclusion of the registry provisions on the grounds that green cards, in any context, produce an incalculable impact in the areas of employment, deportation protection, family sponsorship, voting, and more that would outweigh their budgetary cost or revenues in violation of the Byrd rule. After the ruling, Senator Durbin, the majority whip, noted that the package “still involved legal permanent residency; we knew we still had a real challenge.” The ruling prevents the current legalization package from being included in the budget reconciliation bill unless Democrats take steps to circumvent the parliamentarian. As shared previously, the budget reconciliation process would enable the Senate Democrats to pass immigration reform on a simple majority without Republican votes, but only if such provisions are ruled to not be “extraneous” to the national budget.
However, our chances for winning reform this year are not over. Senate Menendez has already indicated Senate Democrats will turn to a “Plan C” immigration proposal (“I disagree with her ... but we'll go to plan C.”) and will soon present it to the Parliamentarian, this time via use of parole and visa recapture. Commenting on Plan C, Representative Espaillat said, “The next one in line is this parole option, which is not as ambitious as the first two, but it also brings relief to a significant number of people that are here without any documentation and allows them the ability to work.” Both the House and the Senate Democrats are considering five-year renewable grants of parole to all immigrants who have lived in the United States since 2011.
Due to timing issues, the House may vote on its own version of the reconciliation bill before the parliamentarian rules. The House bill includes many of the legal immigration provisions AILA has been fighting for that help family, employment, and DV visa backlogs (see our summary of those provisions in the original House bill). It would also impose new fees on several applications and petitions to offset the cost of the bill. Tentatively, after a long round of amendments (a “vote-a-rama”) some time in December, the bill would go back to the House for passage and then onto the President’s desk sometime in late December or early January. It will be critical in the coming month that AILA members and advocates keep the pressure on Congress to enact immigration reform as part of the budget reconciliation bill.
AILA continues to advocate for our top priorities be included in the bill, including a legalization program that provides a path to citizenship for the largest possible undocumented population. Beyond legalization, AILA has also worked to include provisions that prevent future loss of immigrant visas, and exempt certain immigrant visa applicants from the immigrant visa limitations. AILA has also pushed for provisions that would expand access to legal representation and needed Immigration Court reforms. Notably, AILA has also underscored for Congress the importance of opposing anti-immigrant amendments, including those that would narrow access to the proposed parole provision, create barriers to accessing visa numbers, and undermine access to asylum or increase detention of migrants at the southern border. Senate leaders will continue to develop proposals consistent with the budget resolution passed by the House and Senate in August.
AILA will continue to monitor developments in this fast-moving process.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 21091005.
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