Democrats are trying to grant mass amnesty to illegal immigrants by arguing that amnesty's $140 billion price tag qualifies as a budget issue—a legislative maneuver that will allow millions of people to achieve legal status through a party-line majority vote.
According to Politico, Democratic congressional staffers argued on Sept. 10 that because mass legalization will add to the deficit, the provision should be included in a reconciliation bill nominally meant to fund the federal government for the next year. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Democratic plan to legalize eight million immigrants will add $139.6 billion to the budget deficit by 2032, almost entirely due to increased use of entitlement programs and tax credits.
"Democrats' central argument to the parliamentarian is that offering green cards to certain undocumented immigrants would unlock federal benefits for them, causing effects on the budget that they say are a substantial, direct and intended result," Politico reported.
The Democrats' argument contradicts the rhetoric of amnesty supporters, who often point to the cost-saving measures of a mass amnesty program. During the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden attacked then-president Donald Trump for "costing taxpayers billions of dollars" on border security measures, said Trump's hardline stance against immigration was "bad for our economy," and cited the "$23.6 billion from 4.4 million workers without Social Security numbers" who "contribute in countless ways to our communities, workforce, and economy."
To include a provision into the massive reconciliation plan, Democrats need to prove that it would have a significant impact on the federal government's debt, spending, or revenues. Democrats are opting to pass Biden's $3.5 trillion budget through the parliamentary trick to avoid a GOP filibuster, a move Republicans call an abuse of the process.
Senior GOP aides who spoke with the Washington Free Beacon balked at the argument, with one calling it "obvious desperation." Another called it "pathetic" and added that the Senate parliamentarian might have felt "insulted" by the proposal.
Many illegal immigrants who work in the United States already pay into Medicare and Social Security through payroll taxes. With permanent residency, they would now be able to fully partake in those programs. The immigrants covered by the Democratic proposal would include Temporary Protected Status holders, farmworkers, "essential workers," and those enrolled in the Dreamer program.
Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough rejected a Democratic scheme to include a $15 minimum wage into the pandemic relief bill. MacDonough called the wage's potential impact on the budget "merely incidental."
Democrats were careful to say that the proposed bill would not grant citizenship to millions of illegal aliens. Federal immigration law, however, states that anyone with a green card can apply for citizenship after five years. And left-wing activist groups such as the National Immigration Law Center have called the proposal a "pathway to citizenship."
"Immigrants are an essential part of our communities, not only as our family members and neighbors but also as people who have continued to show up day after day during this pandemic to keep our country going," National Immigration Law Center executive director Marielena Hincapié said in a statement. "As we enter our recovery phase, we must also recognize that there is no recovery without immigrants—and passing a pathway to citizenship through reconciliation would provide urgently needed relief and stability for millions of DACA recipients, [Temporary Protected Status] holders, farm workers, essential workers, and their loved ones."