With increasing support for the creation of pathways to citizenship for undocumented people, pressure has been placed on Congress, especially Democrats, to provide a concrete solution. Considering the decision from Judge Hanen ruling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program unlawful, there is special urgency placed in creating these avenues toward legal status.
Recently, advocates across the country have called for Congressional Democrats along with President Biden to utilize the budget reconciliation process to pass immigration reforms. Budget reconciliation is a process that allows budget-related legislation to fast-track the Senate because instead of requiring 60 votes to pass like most legislation, a bill only needs a simple majority to pass. Using reconciliation to pass immigration reforms would allow Democrats to sidestep a Republican filibuster.
However, the hitch in this plan is whether or not immigration legislation is eligible for budget reconciliation. Any legislation that is up for reconciliation must be examined by the Senate Parliamentarian to determine whether or not the legislation fits criteria outlined by the Byrd Rule. Ultimately, the decision will be based on the Parliamentarian’s prediction of how legalization will affect the government’s budget.
How can immigration law affect the U.S. government revenues or budget? Legalization of undocumented immigrants would ultimately lead to increased tax revenue and the creation of jobs. According to one estimate, providing pathways to citizenship would cause an increase of $39 billion in federal, state, and local taxes and the new citizens would contribute $149 billion more after taxes to the economy each year.
For now, the use of budget reconciliation for immigration reform is not certain and would still require 51 votes in the Senate.
This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances. For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options, you are invited to call us at 214-494-8033, text us using our chat box, or complete our contact form.