Featured Issues, Advocacy & Media

Featured Issue: Immigration Reforms through Budget Reconciliation

8/8/22 AILA Doc. No. 21091005.
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The Senate has achieved its goal of passing landmark climate change and healthcare legislation through a process known as “budget reconciliation.” On August 7, the Senate passed the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” (IRA)” after more than a year of negotiations and compromises. Following more than 15 hours of debate and amendments coming to the floor, the legislation was passed by a vote of 51 to 50. The IRA includes policies focused on carbon emissions, prescription drug and healthcare costs, and corporate taxes, among other items.

Notably, the IRA passed without the inclusion of any harmful anti-immigrant amendments. AILA joined other immigration policy and advocacy groups in lobbying the Senate through the night to stand firm against the inclusion of any harmful amendments. An amendment that would have preserved the public health expulsion order known as “Title 42,” was narrowly defeated on a 50-50 vote threshold. In the days leading up to the vote, AILA had also issued a press statement urging Senators to Do No Harm to Immigrants.

A precursor bill attempting to use the budget reconciliation process was known as “Build Back Better” or “BBB.” It was larger in scope with provisions including affordable childcare, free community college for certain Americans and certain immigration provisions. However, Build Back Better’s immigration provisions were stymied by advisory opinions from the Senate parliamentarian. The opinions concluded different immigration proposals offered by Democratic Senators were not permissible under the Senate’s “Byrd Bath” rules.

The BBB also included many of legal immigration provisions AILA has been fighting for that would have helped family, employment, and DV visa backlogs (see our summary of those provisions in the original House bill). These provisions were not reviewed by the parliamentarian by were ultimately not part of the final text of the IRA.

While the fight for fairness and immigration relief continues, the passage of this historic bill in the Senate can be celebrated for not including amendments that would have been use to target immigrants, their families, and our communities.

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Legislation Updates

Members of Congress Statements

  • The Senate is still working on the BBBA. Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) told reporters that the momentum is still there.
    • “We're working to move as quickly as possible on these two issues: Voting (rights) and the issue of Build Back Better.” [POLITICO, January 6, 2022]
  • Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) ended the current version of the BBBA with his statement on Fox News.
    • “This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do. And the President has worked diligently. He's been wonderful to work with. He knows I've had concerns and the problems I've had and, you know, the thing that we should all be directing our attention towards the variant, a Covid that we have coming back at us in so many different aspects in different ways, it's affecting our lives again." [CNN, December 19, 2021]
  • Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters he was "disappointed" with the parlimentarian’s ruling and that Democrats are "considering what options remain." [NPR, December 16, 2021]
  • Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) remains optimistic for immigration reform through reconciliation. [Sacramento Bee, October 8, 2021]
    • “I haven’t given up on the reconciliation opportunity at all. . .We’re going to keep fighting. I know the parliamentarian said ‘no’ to an initial proposal that we had in front of her, but there’s still a number of different options that I think fit the criteria for budget consideration.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is deeply disappointed but ready to keep fighting with alternatives. [Washington Post, September 19, 2021]
  • Durbin, Padilla Statement on Parliamentarian’s Ruling Regarding Pathway to Legal Status Via Reconciliation (Press Release, September 19, 2021)
    • “We are deeply disappointed in the Parliamentarian’s decision, but the fight for immigration reform will continue. Senate Democrats have prepared an alternative proposal for the Parliamentarian’s consideration in the coming days.”
  • Robert Menendez Statement on Senate Parliamentarian’s Decision to Block Immigration Proposals in Budget Reconciliation (Press Release, September 19, 2021)
    • “We strategized and prepared solid arguments for the Senate Parliamentarian on the merits of providing a pathway to citizenship through the reconciliation process, and while I disagree with her decision today, I always knew this would be a long process. I and my Democratic colleagues intend to continue working until we get to yes with the Parliamentarian.”
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Statement on Parliamentarian’s Ruling Regarding Pathway to Legal Status Via Reconciliation (Press Release, September 20, 2021)
    • “While we did not get the decision we wanted from the Senate Parliamentarian, the fight is far from over,” said Chair Dr. Ruiz. “
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hopes to cover as many people as possible in the budget plan. [Washington Post, September 4, 2021]
  • Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Reaffirmed the Inclusion of Immigration Reform in Budget Resolution. [Press Release, August 9, 2021]
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Clearly Supported Immigration Reform in Reconciliation Bill in Press Conference with House Leadership. [Roll Call, April 7, 2021]

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