As of September 19th, the attempt made by Democrats to use a $3.5 trillion budget package to grant millions of undocumented immigrants legal status has been ruled inappropriate for such a measure by the Senate parliamentarian. This is important news for anyone living in Illinois whose legal residency or U.S. citizenship is in question.
This would have been a chance for Democrats to use their tight majority to avoid stonewalling from Senate Republicans. However, the nonpartisan Senate arbiter, Parliamentarian Elizabeth Macdonough, deemed immigration not fitting to include in a budget bill.
Parliamentarian Macdonough was clear and open about her advice on the immigration measure in this bill. Shortly over a week after Democratic and Republican lawmakers made their arguments for and against the measure, she was already coming out against the inclusion of this pathway to residency and citizenship for millions of immigrants.
There are an estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States. Around eight million of these undocumented individuals would have been able to become legal residents and pursue U.S. citizenship if this measure had been included. A large number of these immigrants have already been living in the United States for many years.
A measure that would set new precedent
The last time a bipartisan bill successfully legalized immigrants en masse to the degree proposed in this measure was in 1986 under the Reagan administration. But Parliamentarian Macdonough had to make countless considerations that led her to rule against this new measure.
This reconciliation bill only requires a simple majority in the Senate instead of a 60-vote threshold, making it possible for Democrats to go through with it without Republican support or approval. Macdonough had to consider that including immigration matters in this type of bill would set a dangerous precedent that could lead to immigrants having their legal status taken away in a similar fashion.
The plan to include an immigration measure in the new budget bill that would allow many undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship was shot down by the Senate’s parliamentarian. She ruled that it was not appropriate for a reconciliation bill and it would set a precedent that may put immigrants’ legal status further into jeopardy.