WASHINGTON, D.C. — Democratic Senators will not say if undocumented immigrants will benefit from the massive social spending bill being negotiated in Congress.
Latino Rebels asked a half-dozen members of the upper chamber on Monday and Tuesday if undocumented immigrants will be eligible for mainstream tenants of the Build Back Better Bill, like child tax credit checks, paid family leave, and subsidized community college education.
“I think it’s really premature to ask that question,” Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) said, “because it’s not yet clear exactly what’s going to be in the bill, if that’s one of the things that we’ll do.”
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said that Democrats in the upper chamber still haven’t given up on immigrant relief.
“This is why some form of legalization or status is important,” Menendez said, “because it makes what you just asked about far easier to accomplish without it.”
“What I support is comprehensive immigration reform,” Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) noted. “With reconciliation, you’ve got to deal with the Parliamentarian and what they perceive to be policy versus what they perceive to be a budget issue. And I think that’s going to be the real challenge with any of these measures.”
Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has previously nixed two pitches by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Hispanic Caucus senators to include legalization programs for millions of immigrants into the Build Back Better Act.
Though it is unclear if MacDonough’s review would be required before including undocumented immigrants as beneficiaries in the more mainstream tenants of the social spending measure.
“I’m continuing to advocate for a way to get to a path to citizenship in reconciliation and continuing discussions with colleagues in all issue areas,” said Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) when asked about extending child tax credits and free community college for undocumented immigrants through the budget deal.
“It’s an outrage that we still have millions of Americans who are DREAMers, who are on temporary protected status, that are not going to get relief,” Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said. “I’m not willing to resign myself to it not getting done because it’s such a moral issue, not to mention an economic issue because, at a time when we need revenue, bringing people out of the shadows, engaging them on a pathway to citizenship brings billions of dollars to our economy.”
“I’m going to fight for the inclusion of these important initiatives in legislation,” said Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) when asked about benefits being extended to undocumented immigrants. “What I’ve learned is that you keep fighting up until you have the final vote, and I’m committed to doing that, not just for this initiative but going forward, as well.”
Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports