Photo: Ana Milena Varón / EFE
By Milena Varón
LOS ANGELES – Groups that advocate for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants warned that this week is crucial and they stepped up in their request to the Democrats to ignore the decision of the referee of the Senate and include the initiative in the social spending plan.
The two chambers of the Congress They are close to finalizing an agreement on the social plan promoted by the government of President Joe Biden, which initially included funds for immigration reform.
The president of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said on Sunday that Democrats are close to finalizing an agreement on the plan, a version that according to Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHIRLA), it almost certainly contains funds to benefit millions of undocumented people with a permanent residence.
The Senate, the great obstacle
However, in the Senate the outlook is not so hopeful. “Our biggest obstacle is the Upper House. Hopes of permanent residency for millions may end this week if the Democrats in that chamber don’t really do something to support us. “, He warned Efe Salas.
On two occasions, the Democrats tried to get the parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, an official who acts as a kind of arbitrator with the responsibility of interpreting the regulations in the Senate, approved the inclusion of an immigration reform in the social plan, but they failed.
The go-ahead of MacDonough It is of great importance since the social spending plan would be approved alone through a mechanism called “reconciliation”, with which the Democrats would not need Republican support.
Calls to Kamala Harris
For weeks the voices for the Democrats to ignore the decision of MacDonough have increased. The vice president Kamala Harris It is the main objective to convince since, as president of the Senate, she can make the complicated decision to ignore the pronouncements of the parliamentarian.
The calls have even come in front of the house of Harris in Washington, where activists led by the Asian Immigrant Organization NAKASEC they stood for a 24-hour vigil reminding the Democrat that time is short.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles an 11-day vigil is held in honor of the 11 million undocumented, in which the vice president and the Democratic Party of the efforts made by the migrant community in the last electoral campaign and the promise of an immigration reform.
“It is time that they give us permanent residence. After so many years of work it is fair because we earned it with our effort “, Juana Castillo, a Salvadoran immigrant favored with the Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Castillo, who came to EE.UU. in February 1989, is one of hundreds of thousands favored by the TPS who have been waiting years for a move to permanent residence.
In the same circumstance is the Honduran Reina García, who arrived in the country in 1990 and since 1999 has had the TPS. “We can’t wait for one more promise”said the woman, who attended the vigil to encourage other immigrants to support the call.
Thousands of U.S. citizens affected
US citizens like Mirtha Garcia they also joined the call to the Democrats. The Hispanic woman told Efe that her husband is undocumented and has not been able to fix his status due to the penalties imposed by immigration law.
“We are thousands and thousands of mixed families that are affected by the lack of immigration reform. I am a voting citizen and I believe that I deserve to have my voice heard. It is time that the parliamentarian was not listened to and millions were given permanent residency “Garcia insisted.
In recent decades, in multiple instances the vice president in turn, as official president of the Senate, he has simply ignored the advice of the senatorial referee. In 2001, Senate Republicans fired a MP whose advice they didn’t like.
“We know that the Republicans have already ignored the parliamentarian. So why can’t the Democrats do it, why isn’t Joe Biden giving the order?Garcia wonders.
The calls will continue all week, and will also be directed towards the Democratic Majority Leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, and influential Democrats like Senator Dick Durbin.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.