President Joe Biden on Sunday stressed the need to establish a pathway to citizenship but said it “remains to be seen” whether the immigration measure will be included in the $3.5 trillion Democratic-only reconciliation package.
“There needs to be a pathway to citizenship whether it needs to be in immigration remains to be seen,” Biden told reporters as he returned to the White House Sunday afternoon following a trip to his home in Wilmington, Delaware. A White House pool reporter noted that the president “seemingly misspoke where he meant reconciliation.”
A federal Texas judge ruled Friday that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created under former President Barack Obama, is unlawful and blocked the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security from granting new applications.
Biden called the decision “deeply disappointing” and vowed to appeal through the Department of Justice in a statement on Saturday.
Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat, also panned the ruling. “Not a surprise, just a painful reminder that we need to stop relying on temporary immigration fixes,” he tweeted. “Congress must seize the moment and any and all opportunities to finally provide a pathway to legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants.”
While the decision does not affect current DACA applicants, it has emphasized the need for Congress to move quickly on legislation to provide legal status for the so-called Dreamer children.
Under the DACA program, recipients are protected from deportation and provided authorization to work in the U.S. These individuals are mostly Hispanic adults born in Mexico, South America and Central America, who arrived in the U.S. as children. But the program does not secure recipients a pathway to citizenship.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durban, chair of the Senate Judiciary committee, has called for Democrats to pass a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers. “Congress cannot wait any longer. America cannot wait any longer,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Democrats have been considering including the immigration measure in their budget reconciliation package, but details have yet to be released. It’s unclear whether the Senate’s budget rules would allow it to be in the final version of the bill.
Democrats have also weighed extending the immigration measure to include recipients of Temporary Protected Status and essential workers.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Budget Committee Democrats, led by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, agreed to a $3.5 price tag for the sprawling infrastructure measure Tuesday, which the party intends to pass using reconciliation without Republican support.