Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said on Wednesday that the $3.5 trillion budget proposal by Democrats in Congress will include a number of top liberal priorities – including pathways to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.
Jayapal said during a press call that the resolution will include a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers, TPS, essential workers, and farmworkers.”
By “Dreamers,” Jayapal was referring to recipients or those eligible for the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, which protected immigrants who came to the country illegally as children from deportation. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients are those from countries where it is deemed unsafe for them to return due to armed ongoing conflict, environmental disasters or “extraordinary and temporary conditions.”
While the details are unclear, past efforts at such pathways for farmworkers have been eligible for if they have worked 400 days or more in a five-year period and passed background checks and included seasonal or temporary work.
Democrats have previously pushed for amnesty for “essential workers,” calling for Biden to include it in a prior spending package. At that time, they defined the term broadly – including those who work in sectors such as health care, emergency response, sanitation, restaurant ownership, food preparation, vending, catering, food packaging, meat processing, hotel or retail work, agricultural work, landscaping, construction, nanny services, and house cleaning and janitorial services, as well as those operating laundromats.
In that case, it would also apply to those who work in those industries but lost their job due to the coronavirus pandemic, and illegal immigrant relatives of those who died of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Jayapal also said the mammoth $3.5 trillion package includes items that progressives had sought including investments in housing, universal child care, paid leave, a Medicare expansion and “climate investments”
The package is likely to see significant opposition from Republicans and could require almost complete Democratic unity in both chambers to pass.
Democrats hold a slim majority in the House, and there is a 50-50 split in the Senate, which would be broken by Vice President Kamala Harris in the case of a tie. Since it is a budget bill, it can pass with 51 votes instead of the normal 60 needed for other legislation.
All eyes will be on moderate Democrats in the Senate such as Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who have bucked their party on a number of issues – including immigration.
Manchin issued a statement Wednesday saying he looks forward to reviewing their agreement and is “very interested in how this proposal is paid for and how it enables us to remain globally competitive.”
“I will reserve any final judgment until I’ve had the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate the proposal,” he said.