Democrats coming round to piecemeal immigration reforms: report

Capitol Hill

Indian American lawmaker Pramila Jayapal sees some unity about a piecemeal strategy.

With President Joe Biden’s expansive immigration set to land on Capitol Hill next week, Democrats seem to be coalescing around a targeted effort to pass popular immigration bills that already have bipartisan backing, according to media reports.

These include legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented group known as Dreamers, who came to the US as children, and immigrants from war-torn areas.

The plan is sure to anger some Democrats, who have long pushed for a massive revamp of the nation’s immigration laws and see quick action under Biden as their most likely chance, Politico reported.

But several Democrats told the news portal they’re confronting the political reality — two chambers with very narrow margins — and don’t see a clear path to passage for a major bill.

READ: Biden outlines steps to undo Trump immigration policies (February 2, 2021)

“I think there is some unity around the idea” of a piecemeal strategy, Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Indian American Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) was quoted as saying.

Politico cited Democratic veterans as saying say they learned from the party’s big immigration letdown in 2009, the last time it held all levers of power.

But they insist they’re pursuing a dual-track approach, with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) launching a full whip effort for Biden’s comprehensive bill while leadership tees up more narrow proposals for floor time, likely in March, it said.

With April 1 deadline approaching fast, Democrats face mounting pressure from immigration activists to move at least some key priorities, Politico said.

To skip another round of lengthy hearings, the party has to bring immigration-related bills that were passed last year — such as protections for Dreamers or a farm worker modernization bill — to the floor by then, the news portal noted.

Biden entered office facing demands from immigration advocacy groups to move legislation in his first 100 days, Politico noted.

“We need to see what combination of bills may indeed get those 60 votes,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), referring to the necessary threshold for Senate passage.

Chu said she’s hoping that Biden’s bill can get there but acknowledged the uphill climb and said “at least there’s some alternatives, in case it doesn’t.”

Chu and other members of the group working on the Biden plan, dubbed “The Closers,” will start what she called “an all-out effort” on the Hill next week after they release the text of the president’s immigration package.

Senior House Democrats, according to Politico, highly doubt they could wrangle 218 votes for a massive reform package and think the chances of passage in the 50-50 Senate are next to zero. Still, they’re keeping hope alive for a miracle, it said.


Pramila Jayapal seeks path to citizenship for essential immigrant workers (January 29, 2021)

Biden weighing doing immigration reforms piece by piece (January 26, 2021)

Pramila Jayapal demands reversal of Trump’s ‘xenophobic’ immigration policies (December 17, 2020)

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