Activists and local officials pressure Democrats for immigration reform in spending program
Up to 30,000 in New Mexico could gain legal immigration status thanks to $ 3.5 billion stimulus bill
EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Activists and elected officials from New Mexico joined a national chorus of activists on Wednesday urging Congress to push for immigration reform in a major spending bill.
The immigration provisions are part of the Democrat-backed $ 3.5 trillion economic stimulus bill, details of which are still being worked out. The Senate parliamentarian must also decide whether changes to the immigration law are directly related to the spending bill, which can be approved by a simple majority vote. This process is known as budget reconciliation.
Some 5 million undocumented agricultural and essential workers, and more than a million arrivals of deferred-action children (the so-called “dreamers”) and migrants granted temporary protection status would be given a path to citizenship under the proposal
“It is time for Congress to act. The ways to really rebuild better are to ensure that ‘dreamers’, GST holders and essential workers are included in all economic stimulus laws and to get out of immigration enforcement agencies like the ICE and CBP, ”said a letter signed this week by 700 federal, state and local lawmakers was sent to President Joe Biden and congressional leaders this week.
In New Mexico, up to 30,000 undocumented migrants are expected to be granted legal status, advocates say. The state is home to 60,000 people without legal immigration status, according to the American Immigration Council.
“Border communities are diverse and prosperous. We are economic engines with around 2.3 million essential undocumented workers and 1.2 million agricultural workers living in border states and one in five DACA recipients live in border communities, ”said Johana Bencomo, board member City of Las Cruces. “We need to ensure that a path to citizenship is fair and free from more dollars of border militarization that may continue to put undocumented Americans at risk of detention and deportation.”
Most members of the New Mexico congressional delegation support legalization through budget reconciliation. Only US Representative Yvette Herrell, R-New Mexico, spoke out against and warned of a porous southern border where 1.2 million migrants passed through this exercise.
“Nancy Pelosi’s $ 3.5 trillion budget is already a bloated mess; forcing controversial and possibly unconstitutional changes to our immigration system as part of fiscal reconciliation is a ploy by Democrats to hide radical policies from the American people, rather than openly discussing them, ”Herrell told Border Report Wednesday.
“Better chance of legalization in decades”
Some advocates say this is the best chance in decades to achieve immigration reform with a Democratic-controlled House, Senate and White House, and with polls showing broad support from the general population.
“I believe the climate and conditions at the national level for a path to citizenship are ripe,” said New Mexico State Representative Roger Montoya, D-Rio Arriba. “When we envision creating improved economic and (better) healthcare, the contribution of immigrant workers is measurable. “
But political analysts say the Democratic majority and public support alone do not guarantee legalization of the 6.5 million undocumented migrants.
“Politics and Senate rules are at stake. Politics has more to do with size than immigration. Do all Democrats agree with the overall size “of the spending envelope, said Julia Gelatt, senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.
Some Senate Democrats are uncomfortable with the $ 3.5 trillion price tag, which means some plans may have to be scrapped. In addition, the Senate parliamentarian could decide that changes to immigration laws are not directly related to economic recovery, she said.
“That’s a pretty big question,” Gelatt said. “There could be several attempts to change the language (of the immigration provisions) around the parliamentarian’s decision. But if that doesn’t work, it might not be achievable during this particular political process. “