Changes in Reconciliation Package Affect Immigration Relief

As Congress works to get a $1.75 trillion social spending framework approved by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, the immigration reform is creating a roadblock. The initial proposal created a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Previous provisions included pathways to becoming a permanent resident, but not citizenship. These provisions were rejected by MacDonough for not complying with the Byrd rule, which limits the types of measures that can be covered by a reconciliation bill.

The next attempt by lawmakers would provide undocumented immigrants who entered the country before January 2011 work permits and deportation protection; however, it would not include access to green cards. House Democrats included provisions in a draft version of the bill to allow immigrants who have been in the country since 2010 and have been a "good moral character" ability to apply to become a permanent resident. However, MacDonough informally rejected this idea.

The provisions included by the House Democrats also included providing more available green cards and the option for individuals to pay fees to be exempt from per-country caps for green cards, which could decrease the backlogs for legal immigrants, specifically from India. This provision has not yet been submitted to the Senate Parliamentarian for review.

Negotiations are still occurring and edits will be made before finally resubmitting the reconciliation bill to MacDonough, but both Senate and House Democrats have said the immigration reform included in this bill will determine whether they can support the bill as a whole. There are several challenges to overcome, but many are hopeful and motivated to accomplish this reform.

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Categories: Immigration News

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