Biden said he supports passing immigration reform through the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan without any GOP support

Biden
President Joe Biden

  • President Joe Biden said Thursday he supports passing immigration reform without GOP support.
  • Democrats are hoping to pass a $3.5 trillion spending plan through reconciliation.
  • It’s unclear what immigration reform measures are being weighed for inclusion.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Speaking to reporters at the White House Thursday, President Joe Biden said he supports including immigration reform measures in the $3.5 trillion spending bill that Democrats hope to pass without any Republican support via the process of reconciliation.

Biden supports creating a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers or immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but said he’s unsure if it would be included in the bill, according to Reuters.

Biden’s remarks followed a meeting at the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris and a group of Democratic lawmakers to discuss the DACA program, which prevents the deportation of young immigrants.

Read more: Democrats are readying $3.5 trillion in spending. Meet 13 experts deciding who gets the money.

Sen. Dick Durbin told reporters that Democrats have an opportunity to pass immigration reform measures and that Biden “made it clear to us, unequivocally clear that he stands with our efforts.”

The DACA discussions followed a ruling last month by a judge in Texas that found the program unlawful, causing the suspension of new applications.

Biden’s $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal advanced in the Senate Wednesday, with 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in supporting it. In addition to the bipartisan plan, which will likely have a final vote in the next week or two, Democrats are hoping to pass a bigger infrastructure bill through reconciliation.

Reconciliation is a legislative tactic that allows lawmakers to pass bills that concern government spending with only a simple majority, rather than the 60-vote threshold needed to avoid a filibuster.

The $3.5 trillion spending package Democrats have proposed would include new social initiatives that Republicans opposed in the bipartisan bill. The initiatives include a national paid-leave program and affordable childcare, among other items.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig in June that Democrats were considering including immigration reform in the bill.

“Anytime there’s been a CBO examination on immigration reform, it produces a significant increase in the GDP without really costing much money,” he said, referring to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

It’s unclear what immigration reform measures would be included in the bill.

In March, House Democrats passed two immigration measures to establish pathways to citizenship for Dreamers and migrant farmworkers. Neither has passed in the Senate, despite a Democratic majority, because they lack the 10 Republican votes needed to avoid a filibuster.

The reconciliation bill would need all 50 Democratic senators on board to pass, but Sen. Kristen Sinema of Arizona said Wednesday she would not support a bill with a $3.5 trillion price tag, setting up the bill to be scaled back.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Biden said DOJ will appeal ‘deeply’ disappointing ruling that found DACA illegal and blocked new applicants

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden on Saturday said the Department of Justice would appeal a Texas judge’s decision to block new DACA applications.

  • President Joe Biden said he was “deeply” disappointed a federal judge struck down DACA.
  • The Obama-era program allows undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children to obtain work permits to stay.
  • Biden said the Department of Justice would appeal the judge’s Friday decision.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden on Saturday said he was “deeply” disappointed with a federal judge’s decision to strike down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and said the Department of Justice would appeal the decision.

A federal judge in Texas on Friday found DACA unlawful and barred the US government from accepting new applications to the program.

“Yesterday’s Federal court ruling is deeply disappointing,” Biden said in a statement Saturday. “While the court’s order does not now affect current DACA recipients, this decision nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future.”

Biden said the DOJ would appeal the decision and the Department of Homeland Security planned to soon issue a proposed rule about DACA.

The DHS in March announced it was working on introducing a proposed rule to protect DACA. But the president Saturday implored Congress to act to create a “path to citizenship for Dreamers.”

“I have repeatedly called on Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act, and I now renew that call with the greatest urgency,” he said. “It is my fervent hope that through reconciliation or other means, Congress will finally provide security to all Dreamers, who have lived too long in fear.”

The American Dream and Promise Act passed the House in March and would provide a pathway to citizenship for the 2.3 million Dreamers living in the US, Insider previously reported.

Read more: The MAGA messaging on immigration is scaring the hell out of some conservatives as millions of newly naturalized citizens will soon be joining the American electorate

US District Judge Andrew Hanen on Friday sided with Texas and several other conservative states who sued over DACA, finding that the program, created under the administration of President Barack Obama in 2012, was “created in violation of the law and whose existence violates the law.”

He said Obama overstepped his authority in creating the program, which allows undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children – called Dreamers – to apply and obtain a work permit to legally stay in the country.

The program has been a frequent target of Republicans and was targeted during President Donald Trump’s administration, who attempted to dismantle it. Biden on his first day in office signed an executive order that called on the secretary of homeland security and the attorney general to “take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA.”

The Supreme Court last year issued a ruling that upheld DACA in the face of the Trump administration’s attempts to destroy it.

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A federal judge in Texas has ruled that DACA is unlawful

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Advocates for immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court June 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Nearly 826,000 people currently benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, DACA.
  • A US District Judge in Texas ruled the program was illegal on Friday.
  • Judge Andrew Hanen barred the US from approving any new applications for the program.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Federal Judge in Texas ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA, was unlawful and suspended the approval of any new applications.

US District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled in favor of Texas and eight other conservative states in barring the US from approving new DACA applicants and said former President Barack Obama overstepped his authority when he enacted the program, which protects nearly 826,000 young immigrants from deportation.

DACA was established in 2012 and allows Dreamers, or undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as kids, to apply for work permits.

Hanen’s ruling does not cancel the permits for those who already have them.

“Nothing in this injunction should be read as ordering DHS or any other governmental entity to cancel or otherwise terminate DACA status for any individual who currently is, as of this date, a DACA recipient in good standing,” Hanen wrote.

The judge said the program was “created in violation of the law and whose existence violates the law.” He ruled that Congress had not given permission to the Department of Homeland Security to create the program and that DACA also prevents officials from removing people from the country as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

“Congress has not granted the Executive Branch free rein to grant lawful presence outside the ambit of the statutory scheme,” Hanen wrote in the ruling.

Omar Jadwat, head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told the CNBC ruling “is wrong and is subject to appeal.”

Democrats are calling for Congress to pass quick legislation on the program.

“As we await the swift stay that the law clearly requires, Democrats will continue to press for any and all paths to ensure that the Dream and Promise Act, now passed twice by the House, becomes the law of the land,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Democrats call on Republicans in Congress to join us in respecting the will of the American people and the law, to ensure that Dreamers have a permanent path to citizenship,” Pelosi said, calling Dreamers the “pride of our nation.”

Juli├ín Castro, former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration, called the decision a “gut-punch.”

“Dreamers have lived in uncertainty for far too long. It’s time Congress give them the protections they deserve. We must pass the budget reconciliation bill,” Castro said in a tweet.

President Joe Biden has previously said he supports allowing Dreamers to become citizens.

The White House and DHS did not respond to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication.

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Biden’s Education Secretary allows undocumented college students to access stimulus funds

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Advocates for immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, rally in front of the Supreme Court June 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Education Sec. Miguel Cardona said undocumented and international students can now receive stimulus aid.
  • This lifts a Trump-era policy that banned those students from receiving emergency aid.
  • The top Republican on House Education called it an insult while Senate Education’s top Democrat is relieved.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package included nearly $36 billion in emergency funding for struggling students, but international and undocumented students were ineligible to receive that aid – until now.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona just eliminated that rule.

“The pandemic didn’t discriminate on students,” Cardona said in a press call on Monday. “We know that the final rule will include all students, and we want to make sure that all students have an opportunity to have access to funds to help get them back on track.”

On Tuesday, the Biden administration issued a final rule that revised a Trump-era policy barring international and undocumented students from accessing emergency aid. In June, Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had issued a rule stating only those who participate in federal student aid programs can receive stimulus money that shut out undocumented and international students, including those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, also known as “Dreamers.”

DeVos’ rule also initially barred students who defaulted on student loans and those convicted of minor drug crimes from receiving aid, but that was lifted in January.

Cardona said during the call that the final rule will apply to all three rounds of stimulus funding and will ensure every student who needs it can access aid.

“What this does is really simplify the definition of a student,” Cardona said. “It makes it easier for colleges to administer the program and get the money in the hands of students sooner.”

DeVos’ policy met a number of legal challenges, including an ongoing lawsuit initiated by California Community Colleges that said they have kept millions of dollars received for grants because of DeVos’ limits on who is eligible to receive them.

Rep. Virginia Foxx – the top Republican on the House Education Committee – called it “an insult to every American.”

“President Biden is fueling an immigration crisis, and this final rule exacerbates the emergency at the southern border,” Foxx said in a statement. “I call on elected Democrats to stop swindling law-abiding citizens, put Americans first, and respect the sacrifice of hardworking taxpayers.”

But Chair of the Senate Education Committee Patty Murray said in a statement she was “relieved” Cardona took this step to give every struggling student needed aid.

Separately, the Education Department said in a Tuesday press release that it is now making available $36 billion in grants that will help over 5,000 institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled College or University, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

“These funds are critical to ensuring that all of our nation’s students – particularly those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – have the opportunity to enroll, continue their education, graduate, and pursue their careers,” Cardona said in a statement. “With this action, thousands of institutions will be able to provide direct relief to students who need it most, so we can make sure that we not only recover from the pandemic, but also build back even stronger than before.”

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I came to the US when I was only 2 years old. Without action from Congress, I could be deported to a country I’ve never known.

Karen Reyes
  • There are 2.1 million Dreamers in this country.
  • Dreamers should not have to live in uncertainty.
  • DACA recipients are calling on lawmakers to pass the American Dream and Promise Act.
  • Karen Reyes came to the US when she was two years old. She now lives in Austin, Texas, and works as a special education teacher.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I am a DACA recipient. I am one of 2.1 million Dreamers in this country. While we share many of the same concerns, we are not the same. We are all unique in our experiences, stories, and jobs. Some of us are health care workers on the frontlines fighting the coronavirus, some of us are in the food service industry, and some of us are teachers. But there are two things we hold in common: the love we have for the only country we have called home, and the fear of us being taken from it. While DACA has given us some protection against deportations, the last four years have shown us that the threat of being removed from this country is still there.

With the American Dream and Promise Act having just passed the House, and a president ready and willing to sign it, the end to that constant worry feels closer than ever.

If this bill is signed into law, it will allow undocumented immigrants or Dreamers brought to the US as children to earn permanent resident status and eventual citizenship. It also includes a path to citizenship for at least 300,000 people with temporary protected status or Deferred Enforced Departure. There is harmful anti-immigrant rhetoric that flourished under the Trump administration, and there is a case in Texas challenging the legality of the program. But this bill says Dreamers are here to say.

For many years, Dreamers have lived in a state of anxiety. We have lived with worries about the fate of DACA, whether we’ll be deported, and whether our families will be protected. Under the Biden Administration, DACA recipients have been given some sense of relief, but if the American Dream and Promise Act does not pass the Senate, Dreamers like me will continue to live in uncertainty.

I came to the US when I was two years old in 1991 with my mom. We settled in San Antonio, where I grew up. Like many Dreamers, I didn’t know I was undocumented, but there were clues about my status. My mom was wary of police officers and traveling, for instance. I found out that I was undocumented when my mom told me I couldn’t take part on a trip to the Mexico border with my high school friends because I didn’t have “papers.” A few years later, I got my undergraduate degree in education and planned to become a teacher.

I started graduate school in 2012 but questioned whether I would be able to work as an educator. Then, a couple of weeks later, DACA was announced. I was driving home from picking up a textbook, and my mom called and told me that President Obama had announced that immigrants who came to this country at a young age and have no ties to their country of origin may remain in the US and work without fear of deportation. We both cried on the phone. It meant that I could work in the field that I love, drive without fear, and live without the threat of deportation.

The Biden administration is a welcome relief after years of attacks on our immigrant community. Many undocumented folks experience wage theft – being underpaid, or exploited for their labor – food insecurity, and financial insecurity because they don’t qualify for stimulus checks and other forms of government assistance.

The Dream Act is a way to provide a pathway toward citizenship for millions of Dreamers, who many elected officials say they support. But I’ve learned that you can’t just hope for things to change. Dreamers like me will continue to fight for all immigrants, but now is the time for the Senate to finally take this major first step, and pass the American Dream and Promise Act.

Karen Reyes is a special education teacher in Austin, Texas. Reyes joined her union, AFT, in a lawsuit by the NAACP against Trump over DACA filed in 2018.

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Activists want Democrats to use their majorities to give undocumented immigrants permanent relief from deportation

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Demonstrators protest outside the US Citizenship and Immigration Service office in Miami, on February 20, 2021, demanding that the administration of US President Joe Biden cease deporting Haitian immigrants back to Haiti.

  • Activists want Democrats to use their majorities to provide permanent relief to undocumented immigrants.
  • They expect two bills to be introduced to protect Dreamers, TPS recipients, and farm workers.
  • Executive actions to protect immigrants have been subject to conservative legal challenges.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Democrats now control the House and the presidency, and narrowly control the Senate, and activists want them to use their power, and with any means available, to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation.

“This is our time,” Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream, said on a conference call Wednesday. Her group – a youth-led immigrant rights organization that claims 400,000 members – is calling on Congress to pass the Dream & Promise Act, legislation that would prohibit the federal government from deporting those who came to the United States as children, as well as anyone who has received Temporary Protected Status after having fled a natural or man-made disaster.

President Joe Biden has pledged not to deport members of either group, but unilateral executive action is always subject to legal challenges; a 100-day total moratorium on deportations, for example, was recently overturned by a conservative judge responding to litigation from Texas’ Republican attorney general.

“Our movement delivered a clear political mandate,” Martinez Rosas, an immigrant from Mexico who has lived in the US since she was a young child, said on the call. Democrats have “a moral and political obligation to see it through,” she argued, adding that the legislation should be passed without any compromises that see more funding go toward border enforcement.

Introduced in 2019 by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a California Democrat, the bill passed the House, with the support of all Democrats and seven Republicans, but went nowhere in the GOP-controlled Senate. Activists expect it to be reintroduced shortly in lieu of the comprehensive reform package proposed by President Biden, which would provide a path to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“We are saying clearly to Democrats that they must use every available pathway, including legalization in the upcoming COVID jobs package, and any other effort to ensure that we have protections for undocumented people,” Martinez Rosas said.

Under the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, many immigrants who came to the US as children are eligible to obtain work permits and protection from being forcibly removed from the country. But DACA requires its recipients to renew that protection every two years; the lack of permanency exacerbated by shifts in the political landscape.

Joella Roberts, a DACA recipient who came to the US as a child from Trinidad and Tobago, said it’s a mark of progress that that legalization is on Congress’ agenda, reflecting “the growing power of our movement.” And she praised lawmakers for ensuring that misdemeanor convictions – and possession of marijuana – would not make one ineligible. But, she said, “I would be remiss if I did not mention our disappointment with the criminal bars that are still in place.”

Activists also expect Democrats to introduce another measure that could provide a pathway to citizenship for around one million undocumented farmworkers and their families. Votes on both pieces of legislation are expected before the House’s March 22 recess.

“It is long overdue for Congress to recognize the integral role that immigrants play in our communities and in the nation for food security,” Andrea Delgado, government affairs director at the United Farm Workers Foundation, said Wednesday. “We look forward to the imminent introduction of these bills and to sending them over to the Senate, where we will continue to build power and demand change.”

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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