Immigration advocates continue to push for reform despite Senate setback

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Over the weekend, Democrats were denied their latest efforts to provide a pathway to citizenship for about 8-million undocumented individuals nationwide as part of their budget bill. 

The party had plans to deliver immigration reform that would protect Dreamers brought to the U.S. as children, people impacted by conflicts or natural disasters in their home countries, farmworkers, and other essential workers. 

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough decided that immigration provisions cannot be included in the Senate budget reconciliation bill. 

Immigration reform advocates, who have long pushed Congress to grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, say MacDonough’s decision sets them back significantly. 

“We do believe that decision on Sunday, be the unelected parliamentarian of the Senate is undemocratic, if you look to the discussions of the founding fathers of the United States and if you look at the constitution of the United States, you will not find such a thing,” said Richard Hobbs, executive director of Human Agenda and an immigration attorney for more than 30 years.    

“We elected a Senate, we had a vote, right now the Democrats have won that vote, they have 51 votes out of 101 in the Senate and the people of the United States should decide whether or not there is an immigration reform or not,” Hobbs continued. “Not the unelected parliamentarian of the Senate.”

Nearly 500 advocates for immigration, health, environment, and educational reforms march in downtown San Jose on Saturday, September 18, 2021.

A coalition for citizenship and economic rights of over 60 Bay Area organizations are calling President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the National Democratic Party to overrule MacDonough’s decision. 

On Saturday, nearly 500 advocates marched for citizenship and economic rights in support of the $3.5 trillion budget resolution that passed both houses of Congress. 

There’s an estimated 100,000 plus undocumented immigrants living in Santa Clara County — a population that continues to provide a significant economic impact amid the pandemic, advocates say. 

“It impacts us locally because we are the Mecca of immigrants also in Silicon Valley, these are essential workers, COVID-19 happened, and immigrant families were out there,” said Brenda Zendejas, Vice-Chair of the Movimiento Democratic Coalition. 

“It affects the morale of our community, it affects not only mentally but affects them economically,” Zendejas added. “We need bold action, we need Democrats to rise up and stand behind us, we stood behind them when they asked to be elected and now we’re asking them, especially our democratic party to unite and put that pressure on our state and Senate.”

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