Senate Democrats hit a roadblock in their effort to attach immigration reforms to a $3.5 trillion spending bill after the Senate Parliamentarian ruled against the move, lawmakers said on Sunday.
The Democrats' provision aimed to provide a path to citizenship for so-called Dreamer immigrants, brought to the US as children, who are protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
In a statement, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats were “deeply disappointed in this decision but the fight to provide lawful status for immigrants in budget reconciliation continues.”
Senate Democrats had prepared alternate proposals and aimed to hold further meetings with the Senate parliamentarian, he added.
A legislative remedy has become all the more pressing after a July court ruling that struck down DACA, which now protects around 640,000 young immigrants. Their status was maintained pending other court proceedings but new enrollments were halted.
Senator Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee's top Republican, praised the parliamentarian's ruling on Twitter, saying, “Mass amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants isn’t a budgetary issue appropriate for reconciliation.”
The step would also have allowed immigrants with temporary protected status and essential workers to seek lawful permanent status.
Early this year, Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough barred inclusion of a minimum wage hike in a COVID-19 aid bill.
Most bills in the US Senate require support from 60 of the 100 members to go to a vote. Budget reconciliation measures, however, can clear the chamber on a simple majority vote, in which case Vice President Kamala Harris could break the tie.
While DACA gives beneficiaries work authorization and access to driver's licenses, as well as, in some cases, better access to financial aid for education, it does not provide a path to citizenship.
It protects primarily young Hispanic adults born in Mexico and countries in Central and South America who were brought to the US as children.