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'This is the year': House Judiciary advances proposal creating pathway to citizenship for millions


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The House Judiciary Committee late Monday advanced, by a 25-19 party line vote, a sweeping proposal that creates a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. The language—which must still pass the Senate, and also awaits an entirely non-binding opinion from the chamber’s parliamentarian—is the most significant immigration proposal to pass the committee in years, advocates said.

“We are long overdue for transformative immigration reform that legalizes millions of people and it is a moral failure that today, in America, millions of immigrant workers are considered ‘essential’ and ‘deportable,’” We Are Home Campaign Director Bridgette Gomez said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “We can do better and we can’t wait any longer.”

Advocates noted that House Judiciary Democrats successfully beat back poison pill amendments put forward by Republicans, including an anti-Afghan refugee proposal and “an anti-abortion amendment that has nothing to do with immigration to the immigration bill markup,” immigration attorney Greg Siskind tweeted. Republicans know that, of course. The purpose is to derail this process with delays and frustration.

Thankfully, their strategy didn’t work. ”Vote-a-rama on the Republican anti-immigration amendments continues and the Democrats are holding firm and rejecting them all,” Siskind tweeted during the amendment process.

We’re in the 11th hour of markup... and Republicans are talking about fighting against abortions...🥴🥴🥴.

— Haddy Jatou (@Haddy_Ja2) September 14, 2021

Big shout out to all the Dems in the Judiciary Committee today! Not a single Republican amendment passed. 🔥 https://t.co/xExO7V9RLr

— Erika Andiola (@ErikaAndiola) September 14, 2021

The language passed by House Democrats could protect up to eight million undocumented immigrants, Bloomberg reported. “The bill would provide a path to permanent status (a green card) for four separate groups of people: (1) those who came to the United States as children, (2) those who have worked as essential workers since January 1, 2020, (3) those who had Temporary Protected Status in January 2017, and (4) those who were eligible for Deferred Enforced Departure on January 20, 2021,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick writes in Immigration Impact.

Reichlin-Melnick notes other provisions passed by House Democrats “could significantly reduce visa backlogs and would represent the most significant changes to the U.S. legal immigration system in 30 years.” Read his full overview here:

Want to know what's going on with the immigration reform through budget reconciliation bill that the House Judiciary Committee is debating right now? I've got you covered! I explain in @immcouncil's blog what's in the draft bill and what's coming next. https://t.co/gZ7AC1rAPL https://t.co/MILgZ4HSkQ

— Aaron Reichlin-Melnick (@ReichlinMelnick) September 13, 2021

“By providing a path to permanent residence for America’s Dreamers, temporary protected status holders, farm workers, and other essential workers who keep our country running, there is no doubt that we will benefit from the resulting economic gains for decades to come,” Bloomberg reports House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler said during the hearing.

And this must be the year to pass a pathway to citizenship. “I have been undocumented for almost 30 years at this point,” Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient Astrid Silva recently said. While the program was fully reopened under court order late last year, another court decision this past summer has again halted all new applications. “My entire life depends on these next few decisions,” she continued. “Now, more than ever, there is an actual plausible possibility [of a path to citizenship].”

Felicidades and many thanks to @Astrid_NV and @AliciaOnMSNBC. Now is the time for legal status! https://t.co/BFb68P1U9l

— Alison Turner (@AlisonJWTforall) September 13, 2021

Senate Democrats have already presented their case to the chamber’s parliamentarian, who has since asked for more information. Ultimately, Senate Democrats are in charge, and are free to either accept or reject that opinion. Advocates have said “[a] path to citizenship has a significant budgetary and economic impact and there’s no question that it should and can be part of reconciliation.”

“The benefits to our economy are substantial,” Gomez said. “Citizenship will boost our GDP by $1.5 trillion, generate billions in tax revenue, create 400,000 new jobs and increase wages for American workers by $600. Nearly 60 economists recently penned a letter to Senate leadership outlining the economic benefits and significant budgetary impact of a pathway to citizenship … Just as importantly, a path to permanent residency is a goal long-sought for immigrants and their families so that millions can work without fear of deportation or family separation.”

We did it. We just finished a 13-hour @HouseJudiciary markup, where we secured a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers! Progress that so many have been working decades to achieve. On to the House floor. We will get this done.

— Rep. Joe Neguse (@RepJoeNeguse) September 14, 2021

“Yesterday our country took another step forward toward formally recognizing millions of deeply-rooted friends, family and neighbors as the Americans they already are,” America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry said. “This is the year. The American people from across the political spectrum support citizenship for millions. Democrats are united behind the proposal. The White House strongly supports the initiative. It’s time to translate this momentum and support into results.”