Democrat senator: Use budget tool to pass 'comprehensive immigration reform' without GOP

"I've advocated for every tool to be considered" for "as much of a comprehensive immigration reform package as we can" get, said New Mexico's Ben Ray Lujan.

Updated: July 29, 2021 - 12:19pm

New Mexico Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan says he wants "every tool to be considered" for passage of "as much of" comprehensive immigration reform as Democratic leaders can include in a filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill.

Using reconciliation would allow Democrats to pass a large-scale budget bill without relying on votes from Republicans in the 50-50 Senate. The new spending programs Democrats are advocating, including tuition-free community college, would likely be eligible under reconciliation rules given that they impact the federal budget. It is unclear if the Senate parliamentarian would allow immigration reform measures to qualify for the reconciliation bill Democrats are crafting, which they estimate will cost $3.5 trillion.

Reps. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-Ill.) recently announced that they would not support a budget reconciliation bill that lacks immigration reform.

Lujan, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, was asked if he thinks a path to citizenship for certain categories of illegal immigrants would qualify under reconciliation rules. 

"I've advocated for every tool to be considered and used for the passage of the DREAM Act, the Dream and Promise Act, the Farm Worker Modernization program, for as much of a comprehensive immigration reform package as we can," Lujan said on Wednesday after speaking at a news conference in support of passing climate change initiatives in the reconciliation bill.

"I believe that there has been a precedent that has been established, associated with when Republicans were in the majority and actions that they took, as recent as 2005, for the inclusion of immigration policy in a budget reconciliation package," he continued.

"Ultimately, it'll be up to the parliamentarian, but I've heard many people call for the inclusion of immigration reform policies in the budget resolution," Lujan said. "And as I said before, even when I was in the House, before I was a member of the Budget Committee, I'd been advocating for every tool to be used, and I continue to advocate for that."

Lujan was referring to some immigration policy changes that were included in a 2005 reconciliation bill that the GOP-led Congress had passed when former President George W. Bush was in office.

Just the News Spotlight