Advance Notice: Briefs

Tlaib, Lawrence, Levin join letter urging Senate to add immigration reform to Build Back Better

By: - November 23, 2021 12:14 pm

Isiah Holmes, Wisconsin Examiner

Three of Michigan’s members of Congress have signed onto a letter led by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) asking U.S. Senate leadership to reinstate a pathway to citizenship within President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) Act.

The U.S. House passed the $1.85 trillion BBB Act on Friday, which includes a host of social spending and climate change provisions. But as a Monday letter from 91 Democratic members of Congress points out, the House version “limits relief for certain undocumented individuals.”

“We now write to urge you and the rest of our colleagues in the Senate to reinstate a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS [temporary protected status] holders, farm workers, and essential workers in the Senate’s version of the reconciliation  bill,” the letter reads.

“When Congress promises ‘immigration reform,’ as it has done throughout the negotiation process, our party must fully deliver on that promise. … The vast majority of Americans — in both parties — want us to provide a pathway to citizenship.”

U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) and Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) were among the 91 total congressional signatories. The effort also was led by U.S. Reps. Lou Correa (D-Calif.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.) and Grace Meng (D-N.Y.).

The letter is addressed to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). The House Democrats argue that while the Senate parliamentarian issued a memorandum dismissing the positive budgetary impact of providing a pathway to citizenship, the role of Parliamentarian is merely an advisory one and the Senate’s presiding officer can issue a different, binding ruling to the contrary.

The representatives also contend that the Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough’s memorandum was issued despite “evidence to the contrary,” citing sources including the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute about the beneficial impact immigrants have on the U.S. economy.

“We cannot let an unelected advisor determine which promises we fulfill and which we do not,” the letter reads.

“As this bill heads to the Senate, we must fight to ensure that we do not squander this once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement. “The Senate must establish a pathway to citizenship and finally provide Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers, and essential workers with the stability and equal recognition they deserve.”

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).