November 2021

JR, Migrants, Picnic across the border, Tecate, Mexico — USA, 2017

Build Back Better Reconciliation Update

  1. Merely incidental budgetary impact: The Parliamentarian will consider, once again, whether the Senate Democrats’ proposal to provide relief to undocumented immigrants has a budgetary impact that is not “merely incidental” to the policy. In her view, our previous two proposals — both of which offered a path to citizenship — failed that test. In those instances, she concluded that the policy implications of providing a path to green cards and ultimately citizenship significantly outweighed the fiscal impacts. Given her emphasis on the significance of permanent residence, we crafted the current policy to provide many of the same benefits (the ability to work and travel legally) but without creating a new path to citizenship.
  2. This compromise is painful given our unwavering belief that all 11 million aspiring Americans should be provided the opportunity to earn the privilege of citizenship. That end goal will remain our priority, but we don’t want to miss the opportunity to realize life-changing protections for millions of families. And this policy alternative offers the best chance of accomplishing that end.
  3. Out-year costs: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that parole will generate hundreds of billions of dollars in ‘out-year costs’: costs estimated to be incurred as a result of the legislation 11–20 years after implementation. Those costs must be balanced by revenues generated within the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration. Immigration experts agree that the CBO score is based on several faulty assumptions and is far too high. We’ve asked the Department of Homeland Security to push back on that analysis and urge the CBO to reconsider their estimate. If this happens in a timely manner and the CBO issues a new, lower score, the costs may be largely covered by fees within the immigration program.
  4. If the CBO does not revise their estimate, there would need to be modifications to the legislation that diminish those out year costs OR there would need to be a balancing of the costs with revenues from another committee, which requires a formal bicameral conference committee. Senate leadership worries that “going to conference” would delay and potentially threaten the ultimate passage of the bill. Still, as challenging as this out-year cost issue is, there are workarounds (fees, conference, modifications to benefits eligibility) and where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The Imperative of a Regional Approach to Migration

Pending Restart of the Remain in Mexico Program



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Marshall Fitz

Marshall Fitz

Managing Director of Immigration at the Emerson Collective. Advocate for humanity, sports junky, 1/2-assed Buddhist, proud papa and spouse. Views obv my own.