Thursday, April 25, 2024

Democrats won’t Vote on Biden’s Immigration Plan This Month

Democrats have promised to place key immigration bills on the floor this month, but President Biden’s immigration bill won’t be one of them.

Instead, Democrats are moving ahead with an alternative plan: place Biden’s immigration bill through committee with the full House votes on more targeted immigration legislation that already has the support of Representatives. Biden’s proposal is a top priority for progressives and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who say it is critical to act in the early months of his term.

But Democratic leaders were not going to bring up a bill on the floor that would fail, which puts them in a tough spot as they try to keep all groups of their diverse caucus on board for a realistic approach to one of Washington’s hardest issues. Representative Pramila Jayapal, who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, expressed, “it’s difficult because of the schedule but at the same time, we’re pushing very hard to lend momentum to Biden’s sweeping proposal. It’s like we have three pedals, and we’re pushing every one of them with just as much strength.” Referring to two more targeted immigration bills that will be introduced in two weeks.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Biden bill are still working the phones to get their colleagues on board. The group, led by Rep. Linda Sanchez, has lined up meetings with influential groups across the caucus. Rep. Sanchez along with other democrats also spoke to the New Democrats Coalition late last month.

Democrats were already planning to take up some of their most popular immigration proposals in the upcoming weeks; one to protect the undocumented population known as DREAMers and the other one to reform the system for farmworkers. Both have bipartisan support including strong support from the CHC and CPC.

But some members of the CHC say that those bills aren’t enough because they aren’t as broad as Biden’s plan. Representative Veronica Escobar stated, “I want to make sure the broader bill gets as much support as possible, and that we send it over as quickly as possible, and that we get this done.”

As Democrats move toward an immigration strategy, some members of their caucus have begun to seek changes to the Biden plan. Some moderates are pushing to include a provision requiring employers to confirm workers’ legal status (e- verify), while progressives want to ensure the bill doesn’t disqualify people from citizenship because of minor infractions on their criminal record.

However, it is not clear which changes might be made to the bill. The Biden administration has repeatedly expressed a willingness to consider more tailored immigration measures that Democrats can get to the president’s desk. A polling memo shared with House Democrats stated, “Voters will be upset over inaction, especially the voters Democrats need to show up in the midterm elections. Republicans will not receive all or even most of the blame should the efforts to pass citizenship bills fail.”