WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fallout continues on Capitol Hill over a controversial decision by House Democrats to replace a pathway to citizenship in the current House draft of the Build Back Better Act with a proposal for temporary immigrant parole.
One member of Congress who is speaking out about the decision is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
“There are certain advocacy groups, national organizations, that may have a footprint here in Washington but do not have a presence in immigrant communities,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with Latino Rebels on Monday evening at the Capitol. “They have been hampering progress in some of these negotiations because actual grassroots organizations have been pushing for registry.”
“Registry” is a proposal that creates a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants who would otherwise be ineligible for permanent relief by moving the current Green Card eligibility date forward from 1972 to 2010.
“We need to make it very clear to the Senate side that we want inclusion of the registry to happen on the Senate side or we can avoid all of that together and just get it in on the House side,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) have both told Latino Rebels in recent weeks that of the three Senate proposals so for that include immigrant relief in the budget bill, registry was their preferred option. The first two proposals were rejected by the Senate Parliamentarian.
Durbin now leads a third proposal to the Parliamentarian for immigrant parole—a temporary permission to live, work, and travel to and from the United States for those who qualify. Immigrant parole does not create a pathway to citizenship, a fact not lost on undocumented organizers in the We Are Home coalition interviewed last week by Latino Rebels.
Grassroots immigrant rights organizations like CASA Maryland, Nakasec, CHIRLA, NICE, and UndocuBlack Network are We Are Home’s mobilizing infrastructure. Advocates at these membership-based organizations say they are more accountable directly to undocumented immigrants who would be impacted by policy changes. These groups have been vocal about demanding citizenship since the House swapped out temporary parole over the permanent registry fix.
“I see a lot of people who are U.S. citizens touting parole,” said an undocumented organizer in California, “and I keep on asking the question: Who was in the room who okayed this? Was this being decided about us without us? We did not ask for parole.”
Fwd.us, UnidosUS, SEIU, and the United Farm Workers are heavyweight brands in immigrant rights—a highly contentious, third-rail policy issue in the Beltway. Immigration Hub has the deepest reach in federal affairs, with a staff of former Hill aides and former executive director Tyler Moran now serving as a special assistant to the President for immigration on the Domestic Policy Council.
“It’s really exciting,” Alida Garcia, advocacy director for FWD.us, told MSNBC in the days after parole replaced a citizenship pathway in the bill. “We have momentum, and there’s a path forward here.”
Senate Democrats’ parole proposal to the Parliamentarian has since continued to stall after weeks of back-and-forth between Judiciary Committee staffers and the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan agency responsible for scoring proposals that are formally submitted to the parliamentarian.
“Because they lack presence in some of these communities,” said Ocasio-Cortez of some of the national immigrant advocacy organizations involved in relief negotiations, “I believe they have been complicating the message.”
Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports