Top Senate Democrat Aims to ‘Go as Big as We Can’ on Immigration

  • Sen. Murray renews effort to advance immigration overhaul
  • Advocacy groups launch two-week lobbying initiative

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A top Democrat is pushing colleagues to pursue all options to revamp the U.S. immigration system and offer a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals.

“We need to explore every legislative option and go as big as we can on immigration with the votes we’ve got,” Assistant Democratic Leader Patty Murray (Wash.) said in a statement Monday, adding that she’s “as committed as ever” to updating immigration laws.

Proposals to protect undocumented immigrants and overhaul the legal immigration system suffered procedural defeats in the Senate last year, while Democrats hit an impasse on their broader social spending and tax proposal (H.R. 5376). Now Democrats and advocacy groups are hoping to recapture last year’s momentum to find a new path forward.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Activists rally outside the U.S. Capitol to demand that immigration provisions be included in the Build Back Better Act on Dec. 7, 2021.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, National Domestic Workers Alliance, and other groups on Monday kicked off a two-week lobbying and advocacy initiative focused on securing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. since 2010.

The Senate rule keeper has already said the approach, along with a less ambitious House-passed plan for temporary “parole” protections, doesn’t comport with the chamber’s requirements for legislation passed through reconciliation—the partisan procedure Democrats are using for the package.

Bigger questions loom about whether negotiations over the package can be revived after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in December announced he wouldn’t support the House version. Several Democrats have suggested a downsized version of the legislation could move forward, and President Joe Biden said he supported advancing provisions in “chunks.”

Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and other top immigration negotiators in the Senate earlier this month said they were pushing to ensure immigration provisions are included in any future version of the package.

Democrats Seek to Salvage Paths for Immigrants in Imperiled Bill

Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.) said that he’s frustrated with the pace of immigration negotiations and called on Biden to persuade Senate Democrats to bypass the parliamentarian and pursue the registry update.

“There’s simply too much on the line to accept a watered-down deal,” he said during a press call Monday. “Or worse, walk away with nothing.”

Immigrants’ rights groups are meeting with the Senate Democratic caucus in the coming weeks to keep up momentum, said Luz Castro, national policy advocate for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at; Robin Meszoly at

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