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Budget Committee Senators hold a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 13, 2021. They announced on Tuesday evening that they had reached agreement on an infrastructure package. Photo: Alex Padilla Twitter.
Budget Committee Senators hold a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 13, 2021. They announced on Tuesday evening that they had reached agreement on an infrastructure package. Photo: Alex Padilla Twitter.

Congress includes citizenship provisions in reconciliation package

It’s not clear yet which immigrants will be affected, but the inclusion comes after a key push from Latinx legislators.

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Senate Democrats have announced a $3.5 trillion infrastructure budget, and according to Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), it includes immigration provisions for an unspecified number of immigrants. 

Padilla, a member of the Senate Budget Committee said in a Tuesday, July 13 press conference just hours before the committee announced it had reached a resolution, that his “understanding and expectation is that immigration is included in that reconciliation package.”

“Tonight we took a big step forward in making major investments in critical infrastructure for the American people — from climate to childcare and immigration,” he tweeted that night.

The statement is vague, but it led several immigration advocates to translate it to the committee having included a pathway to citizenship for an unspecified number of immigration statuses.

The inclusion comes after Latinx reps made firm statements on the need for citizenship provisions to be included in the reconciliation package. 

Before Padilla made his statements on Tuesday, Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-IL) announced he would not support a budged reconciliation package if it didn’t include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, drawing a red line on the issue. 

“We cannot wait any longer to fix our immigration system and we need to use any opportunity available to do so—including budget reconciliation—for DACA youth, TPS holders, farmworkers, and other essential workers,” García wrote in a statement. 

His move signaled a growing shift within the Democratic Party, particularly among progressives, that their initiatives need decisive action and a move away from bipartisanship for anything of significance to move forward. 

The next promising news on the matter of including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people is that noted conservative Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), signaled he is supportive of immigration reform.

Former HUD Secretary and presidential candidate Julián Castro wrote in response that, “A pathway to citizenship is overwhelmingly supported, long overdue, and will help pay for these critical investments. I’m glad Senator Manchin supports including it in reconciliation.”

Still, it is not clear to what extent the senator supports immigration reform, as well as to what lengths the yet-to-be unveiled budget deal goes in opening avenues for undocumented people. 

On Wednesday, July 14, Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) joined a press conference to speak on the need for TPS Status for Guatemalans affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota. 

Like Garcia, she noted that TPS status is just one way of protecting immigrants. There are also DACA youth, farmworkers, essential workers, and more that fit into several other categories. 

“Immigration reform is at a stalemate, it continues to be at a stalemate, we continue to talk about it. But the reality is that Republicans are pushing back every single hour of every single day,” she said. “TPS is just one temporary tool in the toolbox that this administration can use in order to grant some relief to the people that have already suffered so much.”

While the nation awaits details on which immigrants are covered and how many, immigrant rights groups say the time is now for immigration reform in the form of a comprehensive pathway to citizenship for more than a select few. 

In terms of next steps, Congress needs just a simple majority vote in the Senate, and every Democratic senator needs to vote in support of the package. Now is the time to make the pressure be felt so all undocumented immigrants have a way forward.

“This is the first BIG step into securing citizenship for millions!” United We Dream wrote, advocating for supporters to contact their representatives so a pathway to citizenship may be applied to undocumented immigrants, DACA recipients, TPS holders, farmworkers and essential workers during the pandemic. 


 

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