The fight for an immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for ‘dreamers’ within the DACA program keeps the stakes high in the Senate.
Negotiations in the Senate on the promised legislation for immigration reform and the continuity of the DACA program may determine the future for millions of migrants living in the United States since they were children. In particular, a procedure called “budget reconciliation” puts many of the decisions to be made this year at stake.
Schumer’s reconciliation plan
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hopes to use it to avoid having to turn to Republican support to pass legislation that allows DACA recipients and possibly millions of other migrants to access a path to citizenship through a $ 3.5 trillion budget plan called “human infrastructure plan.”
“If we don’t have reconciliation, I’m not sure there is a way forward.”Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said.
Many members of the Senate say that the other alternatives explored to legalize a path to citizenship collapsed or failed, such as the DACA program, which was enacted during the Obama era as a first step towards a future immigration reform. The Republican wing of the Senate maintains its fears that facilitating access to citizenship for undocumented migrants will only deepen the migration crisis at the border.
In order to overcome this hurdle, Schumer must keep all 50 Democratic and independent Senate seats together through the fall. Any internal opposition could defeat the attempt, and the opportunity for DACA recipients and dreamers to access a path to citizenship.
In addition to DACA recipients, the Democratic plan could include agricultural, health, and other workers deemed “essential,” as well as those seeking asylum fleeing wars and natural disasters. If these migrant sectors are included, the total number of people who could access citizenship would be around 6 million people.
Roadblocks to DACA and the Immigration Reform
Some moderate Democratic senators like Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia may pose obstacles to Schumer’s plan. But other Democrats may also be reluctant to accept the proposed legislation without changes.
To make negotiations more difficult, the immigration crisis on the southern border does not appear to be showing signs of abating and the arrest numbers are the highest in two decades, giving Republicans material to criticize the Biden administration. The federal court’s decision that blocked the DACA program this July, leaving in a very delicate situation around 640,000 migrant beneficiaries of the program and millions of migrants in the process of applying for their admission, only makes it more urgent to find a solution in the Senate.
Are bipartisan solutions completely off the map?
Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans have failed to achieve a bipartisan bill, a hope that has mobilized pro-immigration sectors since the beginning of the Biden administration. According to some Democratic senators, Republicans are unwilling to negotiate and instead are determined to thwart any immigration reform bill that comes their way.
This leaves the situation in the hands of the parliamentary office, which must decide whether to allow immigration reform under the reconciliation procedure. While the majority of voters support access to citizenship for certain migrant sectors, only 8% consider immigration to be a priority issue for the country.
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