Oct 05, 2021
Immigrants and rights advocates gathered outside the Brooklyn home of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Tuesday evening for a four-day "sleep out" pressuring congressional Democrats to ignore the upper chamber's parliamentarian, who last month advised against including an immigration policy in the Build Back Better budget reconciliation package.
Schumer (D-N.Y.) "holds the power to lead Democrats to deliver on their promise to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants," organizers of the #NoSleepTilCitizenship event said in a statement, which also highlighted a related postcard-writing campaign and Bicycle Ride 4 Relief planned for later this week.
\u201cBREAKING: Dozens of immigrants and allies have begun #NoSleepTilCitizenship at the doorsteps of @SenSchumer\u2019s home.\n\nWe continue to hold pressure on Democratic leaders to ignore the parliamentarian\u2019s opinion & include a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation.\u201d— Make the Road NY \ud83e\udd8b (@Make the Road NY \ud83e\udd8b) 1633472054
Several speakers on Schumer's doorstep repeated that demand. Abigail, a member of the group La Colmena, declared that Democrats need to "stop with their excuses" and the Senate majority leader should "continue pushing for a pathway to citizenship."
Manuel, who's part of Make the Road New York's Youth Power Project, called on Schumer and the rest of Congress to "recognize the contributions of immigrants," highlighting that many of them are essential workers who "keep the country running" while risking their lives.
Others carried signs that said, "All Immigrants Are Essentials."
\u201cBrinda, member of @adhikaar and TPS holder, is an essential worker.\n\n\u201cWe live in uncertainty. We want citizenship NOW.\u201d\n\n@SenSchumer must deliver his promise and pass a pathway to citizenship THIS YEAR. #NoSleepTilCitizenship\u201d— Make the Road NY \ud83e\udd8b (@Make the Road NY \ud83e\udd8b) 1633472822
Schumer and other top Democrats--including Vice President Kamala Harris, who serves as the president of the Senate and presides over the chamber's daily proceedings--have faced protests from immigrants and allies since mid-September, when Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough advised excluding Democrats' immigration proposal from the package.
Because of the evenly split Senate, Democrats are trying to use the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process to push through large parts of President Joe Biden's agenda. Thus, the package must be limited to tax, spending, and federal debt limit legislation.
Democrats and policy experts argued that their immigration proposal--which would create a path to citizenship for millions of Dreamers, farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and essential workers--could and should be included because of the significant impact it would have on the federal budget.
MacDonough disagreed, writing in a three-page opinion that "changing the law to clear the way to [lawful permanent resident] status is tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs its budgetary impact"--outraging progressive lawmakers and immigrant rights advocates.
\u201cThis ruling by the parliamentarian, is only a recommendation. @SenSchumer and the @WhiteHouse can and should ignore it. \n\nWe can\u2019t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to do the right thing.\u201d— Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan Omar) 1632098935
Ahead of the gathering at Schumer's home, The Hillreported Tuesday morning that 92 legal scholars recently sent a letter to him, Harris, and Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) calling for the vice president to preside over the chamber when necessary and reject the parliamentarian's advice, as she is officially empowered to do.
If Senate leaders do conclude that the reconciliation process rules allow the immigration proposal, it "should not be seen as an 'overruling' of anyone," the legal scholars argued. "Rather, it would recognize that elected members of Congress are ultimately responsible for deciding whether to enact legislation, in accord with statutory constraints, the advice of civil servants, the voices of their constituents, and their own considered judgment."
The event in Brooklyn also came as footage of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)--one of the right-wingers holding up passage of the Build Back Better Act--circulated online. The video shows Sinema ignoring Karina Ruiz, executive director of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and a former volunteer on her election campaign, who urges the senator to pass the package with a path to citizenship.
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