(Updates throughout with additional reporting.)
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House Democrats are proposing to restore some undocumented immigrants’ access to public benefits amid rapidly evolving negotiations on their sweeping social spending and tax bill, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.
The reversal comes after a late-night push by a group of Latino senators who have been key players in immigration talks.
The House language, which was close to finalization Wednesday morning, would include a parole provision that would offer work authorization and deportation protection to undocumented people in the country since Jan. 1, 2011, and give them standard access to social safety-net programs when they’re eligible, a House Democratic aide, a Senate Democratic aide, and other people familiar said.
Moderates had persuaded party leaders Tuesday to bar those granted status under the bill from accessing most public benefits, including food stamps, children’s health insurance, and other programs. In the latest whiplash of immigration negotiations, a group of Senate Democrats waged a successful pressure campaign to reverse the move, the sources said.
Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez (N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Alex Padilla (Calif.), and Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) made the push late into Tuesday night, according to Senate aides.
“We’ve still got to keep fighting,” Padilla said in a hallway interview Wednesday.
Senate Democrats have been waiting weeks to present the parole option to the Senate parliamentarian, who reviews whether provisions are sufficiently budget-oriented to qualify for the reconciliation process Democrats are using to pursue their agenda. Menendez early Wednesday afternoon said the presentation hadn’t happened yet.
The fate of an immigration package in the deal remains tenuous pending the parliamentarian’s advice and continuing negotiations among the party’s progressive and moderate factions.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org