Confusion reigns among Hispanic Democrats as the clock approaches the possibility of including immigration provisions in the final draft of the social spending bill.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) has sent mixed messages about its expectations in this regard, ranging from unrestricted endorsement of any plan supported by President BidenJoe Biden Biden Administration Targets Methane Emissions McConnell Criticizes Possible Payments to Separated Migrant Families Poll: 50 percent of Republicans don’t think their vote is accurately counted MORE – immigration reform or not – to the red lines that require the inclusion of immigration provisions.
The diversity of positions on a central issue for the CHC is due in part to uncertainty over which immigration provisions the Senate MP, who has already rejected two immigration provisions, will consider compatible with a reconciliation bill.
“I think that’s the frustration. I don’t think there is so much disunity, you know, even the things that happen here in the Chamber with our caucus, so you have all this other obstacle that you have to overcome not only with the parliamentarian but with one or two picky eaters. senators, ”Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told The Hill.
“I think that’s part of the debate: what is feasible and what is correct? Some of us feel like, you know, let the Senate undo it. But at the same time, there is also the pressure that what is feasible and affects the greatest number of people is probably where we should focus, ”he added. “It is a division of strategy, not of purpose.”
Still, frustration grows among CHC members as Democrats move closer to agreeing on the spending bill, dividing those who prioritize a social package that could benefit historically disadvantaged communities, and those who see the immigration as a litmus issue of Hispanic inclusion.
CHC President Representative Raúl Ruiz (D-Calif.) Told MSNBC’s José Díaz Balart last week that he is “excited” about the social provisions in the blanket proposal, adding that immigration should not be a decisive factor.
“You know what? We are not just going to limit ourselves to drawing lines in the sand, we are going to want to be flexible, agile,” Ruiz said, adding that the four members of the Senate CHC are still putting pressure on the parliamentarian of that body. about immigration.
That view runs counter to many immigration activists, who early in the debate on the social spending package adopted the mantra that they would not tolerate Democrats “hiding behind the MP.”
And three members of CHC – Reps. Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralHouse Progressives Call on Biden to End All New Fossil Fuels Allowing Largest Latino Group Endorses Padilla for Full Senate Term Ilhan Omar to Biden: ‘Keep Your Promise to Cancel Student Debt’ MORE (DN.Y.), Jesús García (D-Ill.) And Lou CorreaJosé (Lou) Luis Correa Top Latino group backs Padilla for full Senate term Democrats weigh changes in drug price measure to win over moderate Democrats clinging to immigration MORE (D-Calif.) – have come to be known as “the three friends” for their refusal to vote for any reconciliation bill without immigration provisions.
The caucus has 32 voting members in the House, a number that would be a notable voting bloc on any issue, if it rallied behind a united position.
Democrats have a slim majority in the House and can afford to lose just a handful of votes on the reconciliation bill, while Senate Democrats need unanimous support within their caucus to pass any measure without Republican support. .
The reconciliation process allows the Senate majority, in this case Democrats, to pass a budget-related bill with 50 votes plus the vice president’s runoff, avoiding potential Republican obstructionism.
The MP, an unelected official who provides advisory opinions on Senate rules, has so far rejected two proposals that would grant legal permanent residency to millions of foreign nationals.
Immigration advocates are especially frustrated by the MP’s rebuttal of a proposal that would essentially enforce a statute of limitations for foreign nationals present in the United States since before 2010, granting legal permanent residence to millions of undocumented immigrants, people in humanitarian parole programs and people on temporary work visas.
That proposal, known as a registration date change, was the Senate Democrats’ second pitch to the MP.
A third, which would grant temporary parole to undocumented immigrants, was filed Tuesday.
Many immigration advocates, along with the three friends and a few other House and Senate Democrats, want Senate leaders to ignore the MP’s advice and for the Senate president to decide to include the registration date change, according with Senate procedure.
“I don’t want to go home and explain to my constituents that despite having a united government we cannot deliver,” Garcia said.
But not all members are sure that a line in the sand is worth drawing in a political area that seems to be continually being torn down for procedural reasons, especially at the risk of losing other political priorities.
“I am in favor of fighting and doing everything we can to meet the criteria for immigration to get there,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal Allard (D-Calif.).
“But if you look at the bill, I mean, pre-K, home health care, [the] child tax credit … any of those pieces of that legislation, it would be an incredible achievement to pass any of them. And reducing all that by something that is not possible, for me, it does not make sense, “he said.
But he added that Democrats must pursue immigration until “all avenues and doors are closed to us.”
Correa, one of the three friends, sided with Garcia by saying that he would not feel comfortable returning to his district empty-handed on immigration.
“Each of us comes to Washington with mandates, with the concerns of our communities. I know why I came to Washington to represent my community and make sure that when I leave this country is stronger than it is today,” he said.
Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoSinema’s advisers resign, calling her a roadblock to progress Sinema’s no Manchin, no McCain and non-dissenting Sinema follows potential top challengers in progressive poll MORE (D-Ariz.), Warned colleagues against containing immigration in a bill that could otherwise widely attract Hispanics in their district.
“We should try to do the best we can, push our hardest, we shouldn’t be negotiating against ourselves,” he said.
But Gallego expressed his position, reflecting on the importance of other social priorities in the bill, such as childcare and the child tax credit.
“And then we have to balance the needs of our community,” he added. “And we are trying to find that happy balance right now.”
While immigration is not a top issue for most Hispanic voters (the economy, healthcare, education, and the environment generally perform better), it is a defining issue for many of the grassroots activists in the community. .
Many Democrats worry that failing to include immigration provisions in the reconciliation bill could have a chilling effect on those activists, who form the backbone of Hispanics’ efforts to get the vote.
Those concerns mount in the Senate, where procedural hurdles abound beyond the parliamentarian, particularly in the process of amending the final bill.
“I am concerned that the community does not understand the nuances of the Senate process,” Senator Bob Menéndez (DN.J.), one of the four members of the Senate CHC, told The Hill in a recent interview.
And Senate Democrats are wary of discouraging Hispanic voters in key states like Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, where turnout could be the deciding factor for a Senate majority in 2022.
“They are all places where meaningful Latino participation or the lack of it could make a difference,” Menéndez said.
Still, the majority of Hispanic Democrats support immigration reform, but are unwilling to publicly threaten to derail Biden’s agenda.
That’s in part because CHC members agree on the fundamental need for immigration reform.
“I think you know that we all want to see some level of immigration reform,” Espaillat said.