(Adds comment from Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard in eighth paragraph.)
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House Democrats are exploring a narrowed immigration proposal that would offer protections to farmworkers and “Dreamers” brought to the U.S. as children, though the plan’s prospects in the Senate remain to be seen.
The approach would tighten an existing proposal—already informally rejected by the Senate’s top rules interpreter—to update the federal immigration registry law to offer a path to citizenship for people who arrived in the U.S. before 2010. House Democrats last week included the registry plan in draft text of their sweeping social spending and tax package (H.R. 5376).
“This hasn’t been a topic of great discussion, so people want to know, what is it?” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a lead immigration negotiator, told Bloomberg Government on Monday. “We’re having a discussion about limiting the population eligible that I think we can get consensus on.”
The new proposal shows how Democrats are continuing to grasp for a policy to aid people in the U.S. without legal status as part of their domestic policy bill, which they are advancing using reconciliation, a procedure that allows for a simple majority vote in the Senate on legislation that’s primarily budget-related. Two of their main immigration proposals have already been determined ineligible for that procedure.
The narrower registry proposal would focus on protections for undocumented farmworkers, immigrants with a formal temporary protected status conferred because of instability in their home countries, and those who were brought to the U.S. as children, a person familiar with the negotiations said. The House passed two bills earlier this year that would offer legal status to those groups.
House Democrats’ negotiations on the matter are unusual, as the Senate parliamentarian already shot down the registry update. But inclusion of the downsized approach would allow them to preserve the politically challenging option of trying to sidestep the parliamentarian in the future. Democratic leaders have discussed using the House bill’s immigration section as a placeholder while they seek provisions that meet Senate rules.
House Democrats’ latest plan would include both the downsized registry plan and a “Plan C” proposal under consideration in the Senate that would offer work authorization and deportation protections to some undocumented immigrants, the person familiar with the negotiations said.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) confirmed Tuesday morning that Democrats are considering including both options but said discussions are still in progress.
Senate Democrats are poised to present the Plan C idea to the parliamentarian, who advises what provisions can be included under reconciliation rules, this week.
With assistance from Erik Wasson
To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org