The president first endorsed passing legalization through the reconciliation process earlier this month, following a devastating ruling from an anti-immigrant judge that put a dead halt to new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications. Renewals for current and former beneficiaries can continue for now.
“Should be noted how big of a deal this is,” United We Dream’s José Alonso Muñoz tweeted following the president’s statement on the ruling. “Earlier this week @PressSec Psaki was noncommittal about reconciliation, saying the WH would leave citizenship to however Congress best thought to move forward. For Biden to use the word ‘reconciliation’ is a major movement victory.”
Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have met with a number of DACA recipients in recent days, including Juan Escalante, director of digital campaigns for immigration advocacy group Fwd.us. “President Biden looked at me in the eye, placed his hand on my shoulder, and said the same thing he has always said about immigration on reconciliation,” Escalante wrote about his meeting with the president. “We are going to get it done,” he said Biden told him. “As long as I am President, I am on your side.”
While we await the Senate parliamentarian’s opinion about the inclusion of legalization in this package, there’ve been loud calls for Senate Democrats to overrule her if it’s a negative decision. “Asked @AOC if she supports overruling the parliamentarian, if necessary, to include a path to citizenship in budget reconciliation,” tweeted congressional reporter Pablo Manríquez. “’Yes,’ she said.” And like a broken record, I’m gonna repeat these words from my colleague Joan McCarter: “Memo to Senate Democrats on immigration: The parliamentarian isn’t in charge, you are.” Veep makes the 51th vote.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, among the nearly dozen legislators at the White House meeting on Thursday, echoed sentiments from immigration advocates that this represents the best chance in years to pass legalization for young immigrants and essential workers who have kept America fed and safe during the pandemic.
“Last night … we sat down with the President of the United States for more than an hour,” Durbin said during a floor speech on Thursday. “We were discussing with him and with Vice President Harris our nation’s need for immigration reform … that’s because President Biden understands that we cannot wait any longer to fix America’s broken immigration system. It’s been 35 years, 35 years since we passed any meaningful immigration bill.”
“… I believe the only viable option at this time for passing a path to citizenship is through reconciliation,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of Americans support this pathway, [recognizing] many [immigrants] who have risked their lives to save Americans during the pandemic. This is a critical component of our economic recovery and rebuilding our communities. It cannot wait any longer.”
In just one example of this urgency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services revealed that the paperwork of nine first-time DACA applicants was mistakenly approved the weekend following Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision halting such approvals. The federal government has now had to contact them all to tell them that they don’t have DACA protections after all. Enough. Democrats must be bold and get this passed this year.