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sleep out at schumer's

Immigrants and rights advocates gathered outside the Brooklyn home of Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on October 5, 2021 to demand the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for millions of people. (Photo: Make the Road New York/Twitter)

Immigrants Start 'Sleep Out' at Schumer's Home, Urging Dems to Defy Senate Parliamentarian

The Senate majority leader, said organizers, "holds the power to lead Democrats to deliver on their promise to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants."

Jessica Corbett

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.

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."

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.

Ahead of the gathering at Schumer's home, The Hill reported 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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