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Immigrants and the FY2022 Budget Resolution: Where does it leave them?

Magazine, Immigration

On August 11, the Senate passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution for the fiscal year 2022 by a party-line vote of 50-49. The budget resolution allows Senate Democrats to use the budget reconciliation process to pass legislation, including components of President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, by a simple majority and without being subject to a filibuster.

Budget resolution 2022 represents a turning point for millions of Americans and their families as it provides Congress with a path forward to deliver President Biden’s and Congressional Democrats’ shared plan to Build Back Better. This budget depicts Democrats’ intention to ensure that our economy, our government, and our systems truly work for all Americans.

In lieu of decades of legislative inaction on immigration reform, the Senate Democrats have also planned to offer an accessible path to legal status to the millions of undocumented migrants living in the United States.

The FY2022 Budget Resolution addresses immigration in two provisions: the provision of lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants and the funding of smart and effective border security measures.

Providing lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants

For this purpose, an instruction of $170 billion has been given to the Senate Judiciary Committee for making investments that include “Providing lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants.”

Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, tweeted on August 9: “We will bring undocumented people out of the shadows and provide them with a pathway to citizenship, including those who courageously kept our economy running in the middle of a deadly pandemic.”

This is big news for immigrants, however, the resolution has yet to pass through the process of becoming the law. Also, the framework defined in it hadn’t defined the criteria that would make immigrants “qualified” to have their legal status adjusted.

Applicants might be required to meet the criteria of their arrival date in the US and whether they have a clean criminal record. But for now, we don’t know for sure.

Moreover, it is a work in progress that could be changed at later stages as noted by the framework: “Please note: the list of items below is not final and not exclusive. This document … may be modified throughout the bill drafting process and scoring process.”

The budget resolution mirrors elements of Biden’s immigration reform bill unveiled in February that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for millions of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. while also providing a fast track to citizenship for those brought to the country illegally as children.

The budget resolution reflects the proposed immigration reform bill Biden unveiled in February to create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal migrants and provide a fast track to citizenship for children of the illegal immigrants.

There has been a 35-year gap since Congress last legislated for the legalization of so many immigrants. Almost 3 million unauthorized immigrants gained legal residency under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which also created a visa program for seasonal agricultural workers.

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