The morning after a federal judge in Texas halted new applicants to the Obama-era Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, Biden called on Congress to find a path to citizenship for Dreamers — and suggested using budget reconciliation to do it.
“Yesterday’s Federal court ruling is deeply disappointing,” Biden said in a statement Saturday.
“The Department of Justice intends to appeal this decision in order to preserve and fortify DACA. And, as the court recognized, the Department of Homeland Security plans to issue a proposed rule concerning DACA in the near future,” he added. “But only Congress can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve.”
“I have repeatedly called on Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act, and I now renew that call with the greatest urgency,” he said, urging the Senate to do so “through reconciliation or other means.”
Bipartisan Senate immigration reform negotiations this year have been unproductive. Passing immigration provisions through reconciliation would allow Senate Democrats to avoid the filibuster, passing the legislation with just 50 votes, potentially on party lines and with a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Friday’s ruling comes as Democrats were already considering whether to include legislation to protect Dreamers in their massive reconciliation package. CNN and NBC reported this week that Senate Democrats are looking at possibly setting aside $120 billion to create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, farm workers, essential workers and those with Temporary Protected Status.
Asked what he thought about including immigration provisions in the reconciliation package this week, Joe Manchin — potentially a key vote — said he was “fine” with it.
It’s unclear whether such a move would get past the Senate parliamentarian and ultimately be allowed to be included in the reconciliation package. Some advocates have pointed to a 2005 ruling by the parliamentarian that allowed changes to immigration policy through reconciliation.
There has, however, been growing agreement among advocates that reconciliation offers the last, best hope to accomplish something.
“Even after 25 long years of inaction on passing immigration reform, these DREAMers, many of them also essential workers, deserve security, and above all, a real pathway to citizenship,” Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), a leader in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, wrote in an op-ed this week. “And budget reconciliation will be the only way to do it.”