Indians stuck in green card backlog face yet another disappointment
In yet another disappointment for Indians stuck in decades long green card lines, the Senate referee has shot down Democrats’ back-up immigration reform plan to give legal permanent residency to millions of immigrants.
Democrats had pitched Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough on legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants by making a change to the date for when undocumented immigrants within the United States can apply to adjust their legal status, according to The Hill.
But MacDonough, an unelected nonpartisan referee of Senate rules told Democrats that the option was a non-starter, the political news site reported citing a copy of the guidance obtained by it.
Democrats are pursuing other back-up plans with the Senate referee, The Hill said citing a source familiar with Democrats’ strategy.
Read: Indians hopes of getting green card with ‘super fee’ dashed (September 20, 2021)
Changing the registry date is a “weighty policy change and our analysis of this issue is thus largely the same” as for Democrats’ previous proposal to provide legal permanent resident status to some immigrants, MacDonough told Democrats in her guidance.
“It’s unfortunate. I disagree with her … but we’ll go to plan C,” said Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez.
Senate Judiciary Committee’s Democratic Chairman Dick Durbin said he was “disappointed” in the ruling and that it left them with “limited” options.
“Disappointed by today’s decision by the Parliamentarian, but the push for immigration via reconciliation continues,” he later tweeted. “There’s too much at stake.”
Democrats had initially pitched MacDonough on using their spending bill to provide 8 million green cards to immigrants in four groups: “Dreamers,” who came to the US illegally as children; temporary protected status (TPS) holders; agricultural workers and other essential workers.
But she rejected that earlier this month, saying that it was “not appropriate” for reconciliation, the budget process Democrats are using to bypass the filibuster on their spending bill.
Democrats then pitched to MacDonough a change to the registry date for certain undocumented immigrants and beneficiaries of humanitarian parole programs, essentially implementing a statute of limitations for past unauthorized entries.
It currently allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before 1972 to apply for legal status.
According to an analysis by FWD.us cited by The Hill, changing the registry date to 2010 — allowing any migrants who’ve been in the country since that date to apply for residency — would make around 6.7 million people eligible for legal permanent residency.
MacDonough’s latest ruling immediately renewed calls from outside groups for Democrats to overrule her — something they could do with total unity from their 50 members plus Indian American Vice President Kamala Harris presiding over the Senate.
Top Democrats, including Menendez and Durbin, have indicated that won’t happen, according to the Hill.
“it’s up to elected officials, not unelected staff attorneys, to decide the fate and future of millions,” Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, was quoted as saying.
“We call on our Democratic champions to explore every option, from a new plan to legalize millions to ways to sidestep the Parliamentarian’s advisory opinion,” he said. “Democrats are in the majority. They have the power to get this done.”