The Biden administration’s attempt to grant legal status to certain undocumented foreign nationals in Illinois and around the country hit a snag recently when the highly-contentious infrastructure bill was evaluated in Congress before the vote was allowed. The provision that would grant immediate authorized immigrant status to the so-called “Dreamers” as part of a larger group was determined as unacceptable for inclusion in legislation due to its anticipated overwhelming budgetary impact.
The questionable impact
The ruling is not supposedly based on the expected number of potential immigrants who would be included, but rather on the actual number that they now know would be automatically swept into legal status with a full path to total citizenship. The government assuredly works in slivers, and the acceptance of these undocumented workers would be an absolute sweeping change in national immigration policy. The real truth is that they fear it could snowball into a massive financial problem for the federal budget.
Additional benefits and restrictions
Being authorized for legal entry and potential citizenship carries with it much more than an eligibility for benefits programs like SSI and Medicaid. It also can allow recipients access to in-state tuition if they choose to go to college, access to the Pell Grant system, eligibility to work in many additional employment fields, and issuance of valid drivers licenses. While certain immigration subgroups are excluded such as convicted felons, there are eight million residents who are currently in the U.S. who could automatically be included in authorization. It is estimated by the CBO that nearly seven million of those are completely undocumented.
The Democrats who are in control of the House of Representatives have vowed to continue to find ways to allow a path to citizenship for these many currently residing immigrants. However, the looming issue at the southern border will still have a shadow impact on how Congress moves on this seismic shift in U.S. immigration policy.