Featured Issue: Immigration Reforms through Budget Reconciliation
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.
- Roll Call: Greg Chen on the Senate Parliamentarian’s Ruling - September 20, 2021
- Re: Visa recapture and backlog provisions, “We’re talking about years of wait by family members and potential foreign workers that have been unable to fill jobs and to reunite with their families…”
- Re: Ruling, “The parliamentarian’s ruling does leave itself somewhat vulnerable to that kind of criticism because there are different points in the ruling where the parliamentarian seems to be making judgments about immigration policy rather than making a determination about budgetary impact, which is the realm of her jurisdiction,”
- Summary and Section by Section Breakdown of Title VI- Subtitle A- Immigration Provisions – September 17, 2021
- Featured Issue Page: Legal Representation
- Featured Issue: Ensuring Legal Representation for People Facing Removal
- AILA and Partners Calls for Visa Reforms and Increased Immigration Numbers in Budget Reconciliation – August 23, 2021
- AILA Joins Partners in Urging Congress to Provide a Pathway to Citizenship – August 6, 2021
- Policy Brief: Reopening America - How DOS Can Reduce Delays and Eliminate Backlogs and Inefficiencies to Create a Welcoming America – June 29, 2021
- Immigrant Justice Network: What is the Immigration Proposal in the House Build Back Better Bill? – November 19, 2021
- Center for American Progress: Including Immigration Parole in Reconciliation Will Help Millions – October 12, 2021
- Center for American Progress: Fact Sheet: State-by-State Estimates of Citizenship in Budget Reconciliation – September 13, 2021
- American Immigration Council: The Use of Parole Under Immigration Law – January 24, 2018
- Niskanen Center: The Immigration Ruling Hurts, But The Door May Still be Open for Major Legal Immigration Changes – September 20, 2021
- National Immigration Forum: Fact Sheet: Registry - September 1, 2021
- American Immigration Council: Legalization Through 245(i) August 2, 2021
- Senate Parlimentarian’s Ruling - December 16, 2021
- Rules Committee Print 117-18 – November 3, 2021
- House Build Back Better Act Text - October 28, 2021
- Senate Parliamentarian’s Ruling - September 29, 2021
- Senate Parliamentarian’s Ruling - September 19, 2021
- On September 10, the House Judiciary Committee released bill text on immigration reforms that will be included in the budget reconciliation package. Committee Chairman Nadler substituted the full bill text with an amendment that makes technical changes to the initial bill text affecting the recapturing of visas. On September 13, the Committee marked up the Chairman’s substitute amendment of the full bill.
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]
- Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 Text and Summary
- CRS Report: Build Back Better Act Immigration Provisions – December 7, 2021
- House Build Back Better Act Text as of October 28, 2021 (immigration provisions on page 794)
- House Judiciary Committee Immigration Legislative Text
- Budget resolution text provides general instructions for committees to draft legislation as outlined in the FY2022 Budget Resolution Agreement Framework and the adopted amendments.
Media and Opinion Editorials
- “U.S. Senate approves bill to fight climate change, cut drugs costs in win for Biden” [Reuters, August 8, 2022]
- “Democrats pitch parliamentarian on immigration relief” [Roll Call, December 1, 2021]
- “Historic immigration reform included in House-passed spending bill” [The Hill, November 19, 2021]
- “House Bill Keeps Immigration Measures For High-Skilled Immigrants” [Forbes, November 1, 2021]
- "What’s in — and what’s out of — Biden’s latest spending proposal” [Vox, October 28, 2021]
- “92 legal scholars call on Harris to preside over Senate to include immigration in reconciliation” [The Hill, October 5, 2021]
- “How the Senate Parliamentarian Can Get to ‘Yes’ on Immigration” [Medium, September 30, 2021]
- “Democrats' 'Plan B' on immigration in reconciliation bill rejected by Senate parliamentarian” [USA Today, September 29, 2021]
- “Senate parliamentarian strains to block long overdue immigration reform” [The Hill, September 26, 2021]
- “More than 700 local officials call for immigration in reconciliation bill” [The Hill, September 8, 2021]
- “New Poll: 67-26% Support for Citizenship Extends Across Party Lines, with Intensity Strongly Pro-Immigrant,” [America’s Voice, September 8, 2021]
- “Congress must pass immigration reform to ease America’s labor shortage,” [The Hill, September 3, 2021]
- “Democrats seek to Legalize Undocumented Immigrants via Massive Budget Proposal” [Voice of America, August 10, 2021]