Senate Democrats are pushing to include immigration reform as part of their ambitious $3.5 trillion budget plan through the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority in an evenly split Senate.
The White House and lawmakers believe that a pathway towards citizenship is an essential component of the country's infrastructure plan- a legalization program for undocumented workers will grow the economy, increase wages, and create more jobs.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told LPO, "right now, the plan is a top line dollar number, and then the Judiciary Committee will take jurisdiction and work through the details and make a recommendation to the rest of the Caucus."
In March, the House passed two bills- the American Dream and Promise Act "Dream Act" and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act "Farm Act"- that offered legal status to around 2 million Dreamers and created similar protections for 1 million farmworkers who have worked in the country illegally.
Both House bills face an upward hill in the evenly split Senate. Democrats will need at least 10 Republicans on their side to break Republican filibusters. The gloomy prospects of achieving bipartisan support pressed Democrats to include immigration reform into the budget plan.
When asked if he would encourage Members of Congress to overrule the parliamentarian on immigration, Senator Dick Durban (D-Ill), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, stated "I hope it doesn't come to that. I am always open to bipartisan talks and maybe there will be movement after this Texas decision, but it is not encouraging."
The announcement comes days after a federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from approving new applications for the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Current DACA recipients will remain unaffected for now.
In an exclusive interview for LPO, undocumented immigrant and DACA recipient, Juan Escalante, said "the decision by the judge in Texas was obviously horrific for a lot of people, especially first-time applicants who are experiencing this for the time in terms of having to live their lives from court case to court case, in the hands of a judge that has basically expressed that he is not in favor of DACA."
Escalante urges lawmakers to pass immigration reform through the reconciliation process, "Congress has to act on DACA, on TPS, on farmworkers, on essential workers and the only way to do so is through the reconciliation process."
"We have seen through decades, that politicians have made promises to the immigrant community and now we are facing a catastrophe of unimaginable consequences if they don't take action right now. When this country needed them the most, immigrants continued to show up."
One of the first executive orders President Biden signed aimed to preserve DACA and make it permanent for undocumented citizens.
"Ultimately, President Joe Biden made a commitment to break from a lot of policies from the Trump administration and we are six months into his tenure at the White House."
"His commitment has been to continue to ensure and fortify programs, that for me personally, the DACA program is significantly important, but at the same time, so is temporary protected status (TPS)," Escalante added.
The immigrant advocate continued, "since coming into office, the President designated Venezuela as a country that would benefit from TPS and now my parents will be able to benefit from that program and hopefully will be able to live less fearful of being detained or potentially face deportation to a country they no longer call home."
In March, the Biden administration granted TPS to Venezuelans for 18 months.
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