“No” to Immigration Reform – Ag Labor in Limbo?

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled against the Democrats’ plan to provide eight million green cards as a part of their $3.5 trillion spending bill. The Hill says that decision makes getting immigration reform to President Biden’s desk that much harder. MacDonough’s guidance all but closes the door on Democrats’ chances to be able to use the spending bill as a potential pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants. Democrats had wanted to provide those green cards for four groups of immigrants, including “Dreamers,” temporary protected status holders, agricultural workers, and essential workers. Getting legal permanent status allows people to eventually apply for permanent citizenship if they can meet other qualifications. Because Democrats are using reconciliation to pass a spending bill without GOP support, there are strict requirements regarding what can and can’t be included in the legislation. Democrats initially said they would keep trying to sway the Senate’s “referee” until the $3.5 trillion spending bill was on the Senate floor. Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said his party would take an alternative proposal to MacDonough. Republicans argued before MacDonough that immigration reform was outside the scope of what could get passed under reconciliation.