A provision inserted into the House-passed Democratic spending bill might mean millions of illegal aliens could become citizens, according to a report from an immigration watchdog. This comes after previous attempts at immigration overhaul in reconciliation spending bills failed to pass muster.
On Monday, the Center for Immigration Studies reported a clause in the so-called “Build Back Better” legislation would mean that 6.5 million aliens would be granted “parole” — allowed to remain in the country and work, in other words — and 3 million of those could end up obtaining citizenship.
Previous attempts at including sweeping amnesty in the spending bill were quashed by the Senate parliamentarian in September. Because the Democrats only hold a 50-50 advantage in the Senate, with all ties broken by Vice President Kamala Harris, any immigration reform measure would have to be passed via a process called budget reconciliation to avoid the filibuster.
However, parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled the amnesty legislation wasn’t eligible to be passed via reconciliation, which only applies to matters that are chiefly budgetary in nature.
In September, MacDonough ruled that proposed language to convert 8 million people (most of them here illegally) to legal permanent resident status was a “tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact,” according to Fox News.
Under a version of the spending bill that passed the House of Representatives earlier this month, however, Democrats included what the Center for Immigration Studies’ Robert Law called “amnesty lite” — the use of a provision called “parole” to allow millions of illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before Jan. 1, 2011, to stay here legally.
“Parole is supposed to be a narrow authority under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary to temporarily allow an alien into the country ‘only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit,'” Law wrote.
The bill “would grant these paroled aliens work authorization, Social Security numbers and permission to travel abroad, and even exempt them from the REAL ID Act requirements for driver’s licenses. The parole would be valid for five years, renewable for another five-year period.”
While the original version of the bill that was shot down by the parliamentarian was dubbed “amnesty premium” by Law, “amnesty lite” isn’t particularly appealing either — especially if you look at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the bill, which estimated how much it would cost over the next decade.
“Regarding the immigration provisions, the CBO estimates that 6.5 million aliens would receive parole (‘amnesty lite’, if you will), making them eligible for various tax credits and welfare. Within this population, the CBO projects that 3 million aliens will obtain [legal permanent resident] status (amnesty premium) and a path to U.S. citizenship by virtue of first obtaining parole,” Law wrote.
“These aliens are able to accomplish this because under section 245(a) of the INA, an ‘alien who was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States’ is eligible to adjust status to LPR if he qualifies under one of the existing legal immigration categories.
“Essentially, the grant of parole to aliens already in the country launders an illegal alien’s unlawful presence which normally serves as a bar to obtaining a green card,” Law continued. “The CBO specifies that these paroled aliens would obtain LPR as an ‘immediate relative’ of a U.S. citizen, meaning the parent, spouse or unmarried child (under age 21).”
A CIS fellow, David North, “also picked up on the CBO estimating that this ‘non-amnesty amnesty’ will cost American taxpayers $111 billion,” Law wrote.
Democrats like New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez have described the broad use of the narrow power of immigration parole as “Plan C” amnesty. (“Plan B” amnesty, which would have legalized illegal immigrants by updating an immigration registry, was also rejected by the parliamentarian in September, according to Roll Call.)
“We haven’t finalized it yet as we speak, but ‘Plan C’ would probably be a parole option that would give about 8 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements the ability to work lawfully, to have a status that would last five years and would be renewable for another five years, that would protect them from deportation, that would allow them to travel domestically and internationally … that could also potentially gain access to healthcare coverage,” Menendez said in an interview, according to Fox News.
However, this time the Senate parliamentarian might not intervene to stop “Plan C.” Axios reported last week that a Tuesday meeting between Senate Democrats and MacDonough ended with “a hopeful sign” for Democrats, with a final ruling expected in the coming weeks.
If the parliamentarian gives the go-ahead, then, all eyes are on the Senate’s two Democratic swing votes: Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Manchin has said he wouldn’t overrule the parliamentarian in the past; however, in an interview with Fox News earlier this month, he said he wouldn’t support any form of amnesty without border security first, no matter what the parliamentarian ruled.
“For us to even be talking about immigration without border security is ludicrous,” he said.
“I’ve told them … the average person turns on the TV and sees what’s going on in the border, and that basically scares the bejesus out of an awful lot of people,” he continued.
“If [migrants] think they can come and get all the different benefits that people, the citizens of America get are entitled to, they’re going to continue to come. So, no, I don’t think so.”
Relying on Manchin and Sinema as a bulwark on immigration isn’t a workable strategy for Republicans, however, particularly with the Democrats madly intent on getting amnesty into a reconciliation bill any way they can. Sadly, if the Democrats really have managed to find a Trojan horse amnesty workaround that the Senate parliamentarian is willing to sign off on, it may be all they have.
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