President Joe Biden said “it remains to be seen” if a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers will be included in the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget bill.
The president was asked if a pathway to citizenship will be included in budget reconciliation, which can be passed without Republican support.
"There must be a pathway to citizenship," Biden said, according to the New York Post. "Whether it needs to be in [reconciliation] remains to be seen." The president was speaking Sunday.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy was established by memorandum in 2012 under President Obama and allows some individuals who were brought to the United States as children (so-called Dreamers) to stay in the United States and obtain a work permit.
Democrats want to act on legalizing Dreamers' status, following a Texas federal judge ruling in July that said the program was unlawful. The judge also blocked new applicants.
The move places in jeopardy the status of tens or hundreds of thousands of other so-called Dreamers — including 50,000 new DACA applicants who had not yet been enrolled in the program, according to The Hill.
“Without question the DACA ruling from Judge [Andrew] Hanen in Texas really adds urgency to the need for Congress to act, and I think it puts more pressure on Congress overall to provide a permanent solution here,” said Greg Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, as reported in The Hill.
Increasingly, Latino and Hispanic immigrants, as well as immigration advocacy groups, are involved in grass-roots activities on immigration issues that particularly target Democrat politicians, who are seen as more sympathetic to their cause. President Biden would like to act on immigration this year, if possible.
It is not clear if the DACA program can be passed through reconciliation, however. Reconciliation allows the majority party to bypass the legislative filibuster, the Senate rule requiring 60 members to end debate on most topics and move forward to a vote. Reconciliation allows Democrats to pass spending for critical projects, but the process cannot be used to change or create laws.
Senate Democrat leaders this month told other members the budget measure would open the door to legislation on climate measures, social spending, and extension of a child tax credit, according to Reuters.
However, it remains unclear if the Senate parliamentarian, who decides which provisions may be included in a budget package, will approve inclusion of an immigration measure.
The Senate is equally divided between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, and Vice President Kamala Harris can break the tie in favor of the Democrats. But 51 votes are insufficient under current rules to prevent the filibuster.
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