Sunday, November 28

Democrats in Congress present arguments to regularize 8 million undocumented immigrants

The $ 3.5 billion economic plan that includes a path to citizenship is being evaluated in Congress.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Democrats in the US Senate proposed this Friday to regularize 8 million undocumented immigrants, including those who came to the country as children and who are known as “dreamers”, a Democratic source told EFE.

Democrats made that proposal during the meeting they held this Friday with the Republicans with the Senate “parliamentarian”, Elizabeth MacDonough, in charge of interpreting the rules of the legislative process.

Senate “Parliamentarian” must issue a ruling

That meeting was similar to a “trial” in which Democrats and Republicans presented their arguments to MacDonough, who must issue a kind of “ruling”, something that is not imminent and will not occur at least until next week, according to the cited source.

Democrats asked the regularization of four groups that add up to 8 million migrants: “dreamers”, farm workers, essential workers (such as medical personnel) and migrants who have accessed an immigration protection called Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

In addition, the Democrats defended that all the requirements are met to approve migratory changes alone through a process known as “reconciliation” and that allows a budget law to be carried out in the Senate with a simple majority of 50 votes, instead of the 60 normally needed.

Democrats want to use the “reconciliation” mechanism because they do not have 60 supporters: they hold a narrow majority of 50 seats, although could reach 51 with the backing of Vice President Kamala Harris, who serves as president of the Upper House.

However, they do not have any support from GOP senators, who for decades have opposed passing immigration reform.

$ 139 billion impact

For MacDonough to position himself in their favor, Democrats had to prove that immigration changes will have an impact on the federal budget and that this impact will be substantial and not “merely incidental,” as defined in the so-called Byrd Rule, called thus by the late Senator Robert Byrd, who was in charge of establishing the rules of the process.

To prove that point, Democrats assured that regularizing 8 million people will have a cost to the state coffers of $ 139,000 million, for a period of 10 years, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the aforementioned source explained to Efe.

Specifically, the regularization of these migrants would have a cost because they could automatically access social programs, such as food assistance vouchers.

Ironically, Democrats are using the argument Republicans have used for years to oppose immigration reform: that regularizing migrants will cost the state. They need to test that idea to approve the changes through the “reconciliation” process.

Big benefits for the US economy

However, in the last few hours, a group of 50 economists argued that migratory changes would also bring great economic benefits to the United States, such as the increase in the level of wages, the creation of jobs and the exit from poverty of many families.

The group of economists presented those arguments in a letter they sent to the Democratic leadership of Congress to ask for the regularization of migrants.

The signatories include economics professors from leading US universities, as well as Jason Furman, who was Barack Obama’s top economic adviser (2009-2017).

In a statement sent to Efe, the president of the organization, Todd Schulte, recalled that millions of immigrants have helped the US during the covid-19 pandemic, for which he urged Congress and the US president Joe Biden to protect those families now.

In this sense, Claudia Flores, from the Center for American Progress (CAP), considered that opening a path to citizenship is “what is morally and socially correct.”

Congress has not passed a law for 35 years with a path to citizenship for a large group of migrants.

The last time was in 1986, when then-President Ronald Reagan signed a law that allowed regularize 3 million undocumented immigrants.

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