President Biden indicated that he would be open to passing immigration reform legislation in the Senate via budget reconciliation rules, allowing Democrats to move forward without Republican support.
Biden said he generally “supports passing certain immigration reforms by reconciliation if we can’t get the 10 Republican votes,” Representative Darren Soto (D., Fla.). Hispanic Caucus Chair Raul Ruiz (D, Calif.) said Biden communicated a “strong sentiment” that he wished to get immigration reform “done once and for all,” in comments to Politico.
The Senate is currently tied 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. Budget reconciliation rules allow the Senate to pass certain bills with a simple majority vote in place of the filibuster-proof 60-vote threshold, although it is unclear if immigration legislation would qualify for passage under the rules.
Both the Hispanic and progressive caucuses have pushed to pass immigration legislation via budget reconciliation, potentially including a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants currently residing in the U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro (D., Texas) and Senators Alex Padilla (D, Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D, Mass.) have introduced legislation that builds a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants in essential jobs.
Members of the Hispanic Caucus asked for Biden’s “unequivocal support for immigration reforms to be included in the reconciliation package,” Soto said. “He said he was committed to making those statements publicly.”
It is unclear if Democrats will succeed in passing potential reforms. The party is currently attempting to pass the Biden administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan via budget reconciliation.
Biden promised immigration reform while on the campaign trail, and sent a bill to Congress in January that provides a pathway to citizenship that gives undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.